Posted inFSA Spy

The FSA Spy market buzz – 15 April 16

LGT loses and Mornington gains; ghost of marketing past at Fidelity; Parvest gets Brazil right, GSAM is slow in Singapore, and much more.

Spy has been contemplating, over several pints of cold craft beer, Leicester City’s race to the top of the English Premiership leaderboard and, unexpectedly, for the armchair pundits, its staying power there. How very much it is like asset management: just when you think the top few will keep all the spoils, an outsider comes along to upset the apple cart. Here in Asia, Schroders, JP Morgan (JF to old timers like Spy), Franklin Templeton, Aberdeen, etc long held unassailable marketshare positions, and yet, little-by-little the outsiders are snapping at their heels, especially in private banking wholesale. A few bad quarters of performance here and there and all of a sudden we see shiny new, unexpected faces: Jupiter, Pinebridge, OMGI, Investec, Neuberger Berman, Nordea, M&G, Wellington, CapGroup and many others. Spy is not sure who deserves to be called the Leicester City of Asia AM, but is willing to take reader suggestions on an emailed postcard…

Spy hears through dispatches that ebullient investment strategist and red wine connoisseur, Simon Grose-Hodge has recently left LGT Private Bank. The Lichtenstein bank’s loss is Mornington’s gain. Simon has apparently joined Mornington as investment director. Mornington is a single-family office with representation in Singapore.

Spy got whispers that Fidelity has recently had a Dickensian experience in Hong Kong. Last week, the great and good from Fidelity’s sales teams from across the entire world were gathered at the iconic Conrad Hotel in Pacific Place for an all ‘round back-patting and strategy session. On the morning in question, dozens of Fidelity business devs descended on the breakfast hall only to find, bang in the middle of their Fidelity party, one Damien Mooney, currently of Blackrock, hosting a small meeting. Damien, who is a globe-trotting alumnus of the Fidelity family, was given a warm welcome by those who realised he was there in flesh and blood and not just haunting his old team and reminding them of his stellar rise since his defection…

How is the emerging markets rebound rally going? Not too badly if you look at Parvest’s performance in the last month. Parvest Equity Brazil Classic-CapitalisationEUR is up 21.7% in the last month and more than 17% this year. Sadly, Spy reckons every PB RM in Hong Kong and Singapore could not have persuaded a single client to buy Brazil a month ago for all the water in the mighty Amazon river.

How is Goldman Sachs Asset Management making progress in the Singapore retail space, wonders Spy? Not as well as hoped, is the rumour on the street. Only two key players have rolled out product and assets raised have been weak, if Spy’s sources are correct. With 13 authorised funds, one would expect there to be a top performer in there. Not so, at least so far. Spy did some digging on the GSAM website and was intrigued to discover that the firm is not going out of its way to provide performance info to clients. Clicking on their Fund Finder simply gives expense ratios and inception dates, even when “performance” is chosen. Curious indeed. Spy does not draw any solid conclusions, but be assured he will be watching.

How does a fund group persuade UBS, Citibank, Credit Suisse, HSBC PB, Standard Chartered, Bank of Singapore, etc, to take on one of its funds? According to some jaded fund sales people, “You need to wait until they are looking for the right product and hope something in your bag matches up.” Spy may be a little old fashioned, but that sounds like rather lazy thinking. Spy’s tip of the week, if the fund selectors won’t hear you out, get to the RM’s with the ear of their HNWI clients. At the end of the day, if a client wants a fund, you will be surprised how fast a fund gets on-boarded. In short, some good old fashioned guerrilla marketing may be required…

What is Mr Market telling us about Aberdeen? If their share price is to be believed, sentiment is turning around. From a low in mid-February of 209 pence, the shares have rocketed nearly 50% and closed last night at 305 pence. Apparently, assets have been flowing back in again, hears Spy, as the wider investment world has worked out that emerging markets are not entirely taboo. 

Part of the Mark Allen Group.