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‘Big firms jumping on boutique bandwagon’

Boutique multi-manager Williams de Broe has hit out at bigger groups that have jumped on the bandwagons.

Investment director and fund manager Laurence Boyle says the firm is a true boutique manager because it has a flexible investment process unconstrained by benchmarks and market cap but many firms claiming to be boutiques are not but see the tag as an effective marketing tool.

Boyle claims that adv- isers should be wary of big institutions adopting the boutique tag and urges advisers to scrutinise whether their performance lives up to the billing.

He says: “A lot of groups see multi-manager as a meal ticket. Their funds of funds are destined to look like the managed funds of life com- panies and banks – they are trying to neutralise asset allocation, market cap and style so end up as quasi index-trackers.

Credit Suisse Asset Management joint head of multi-manager Gary Potter says: “There are three definitions of boutiques. Boutique in name, boutique in nature and boutique umbrellas. I can understand the frustration about what constitutes a boutique but it is all about what you get at the end.

“Not all boutiques stand for absolute returns and funds with boutique characteristics can be marketed by the bigger groups.”

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