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Another round of musical chairs

It seems the industry transfer window is open again as a number of investment firms have been flexing their chequebooks ready to splash the cash.

As per usual one move has immediately precipitated another, resulting in a spate of fund manager changes. But as with most manager trends there seems to be one thing at their hub – boutiques.

It was only a few weeks ago that I decided to write a column on the dwindling talent pool of managers who were ready to jump ship from big organisations to find solace in the money management, boutique equilibrium.

To be fair my case was a pretty strong one. After all, it cannot be disputed that the majority who would have had their heads turned have already let their feet do the talking, while on the other hand these big organisations have been flexing their chequebooks to get the best golden handcuffs money can buy.

But nonetheless, I’ll admit it looks like I was a little premature.

Two days and two big fund manager moves. Firstly, Kathryn Langridge calls time on her 17 year career at Invesco Perpetual to join Asian and emerging markets specialists Lloyd George.

A replacement at Invesco Perpetual seems to be in hand, with the likes of Bob Yerbury – the group’s CIO – coming in to make the asset allocation calls on the £1.5bn international equity fund.

This is yet another coup for a boutique by acquiring an experienced manager in the emerging markets sector, something you could argue is at a premium.

But one thing that may have been overlooked is that Langridge is taking the place of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Edward Robertson who appear, and I stress appear, to have called time on their respective stints at the investment house to set up another boutique.

Okay, it hasn’t been announced yet, but Lloyd George chairman and chief executive Robert Lloyd George was quick to wish the pair good luck. He says: “We wish Jacob and Edward all the best for the future in their new enterprise and also for Jacob’s political ambitions”.

Rees-Mogg is believed to be standing as Conservative MP in the future, but as for the rest it certainly indicates a new boutique is ready to join a mass of others.

Then you have Standard Life UK opportunities manager Mark Niznik, who has left the firm after five years.

While it has yet to be announced, all roads point to Artemis, a firm you could perhaps qualify as a mature boutique given the fact it’s been around more than a couple of years?

Niznik’s fund has performed remarkably well at Standard Life, coming fifth out of 251 in the IMA UK All Companies sector over three years. His departure is another sign that any edge a big organisation has in terms of financial clout has been sanded smooth.

Earlier this month, Resolution sales and marketing director Jonathan Polin claimed there would always be fund managers with the ambition to delve into the boutique market and it is looking like he is spot on.

If this is the case then one problem we could find going forward is that the development of new fund manager talent could become more sparse.

After all it does appear that if boutique managers are there for life, then there is little or no room for young talent to get there chance to run major funds, while at the same the established firms won’t allow new talent to get a reputation simply to pass them on to boutiques.

Can you see billion pound franchises acting as a feeder to a small offering?

Could we soon see young managers being tied to long-term contracts the moment they walk through the door, or worse still, the moment they pass a certain exam.

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