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Party mood

Contract Marketing Services managing director Richard Lloyd-Jones looks at the European success of third-party funds.

The generally accepted definition of offshore territories has always included Luxemburg and Dublin. Part of their attraction includes the ability to base Ucits funds in these locations and to market them across Europe.

This has not necessarily been easy. Successive rounds of negotiations between EU members have produced a series of regulations with the latest, Ucits III, currently being adopted by most investment groups. There is still a need to seek approval from the local regulatory regime for each fund, however, and different jurisdictions have different rules. These factors, among others, have limited the growth in the cross-border sales of investment products.

But there has been explosive growth in the use of third-party funds across Europe, whether cross-border or not. Some of this growth is based on a recognition of the skills of specialist fund managers and some on the phenomenon of multi-manager investment in both fund of funds and manager of managers forms.

The diversity of risk is seen as justifying the higher expen-ses but these costs have come down anyway in a highly competitive marketplace. In particular, the use of fund supermarkets and other specialist portfolio management computer platforms have helped to keep expenses under control.

Advisers in the UK seem to have taken multi-manager products to heart already and the concept is now probably the fastest-growing area of retail fund distribution.

It is difficult to discover what motivates the purchase of a particular third-party fund and almost impossible for any one fund manager to benchmark their current performance against competitors in the marketplace.

One source of market intelligence which aims to achieve these objectives is the European Investor Focus. This resource is based on around 1,750 interviews with buyers of third-party funds throughout Europe.

The sample is based on a representative cross-section of distributors of retail funds, from leading European banks to IFAs, with the emphasis, necessarily, on bigger distributors. The tables above are taken from European Investor Focus.

The second table shows the ranking of third-party fund managers by UK distributors in four quartiles based on a composite of their rankings by each of the factors shown in the first table. Rather like the medal rankings for countries in the Olympics, each fund manager is awarded a “medal” for first, second or third position by each competitive factor and the results correlated to produce a league table.

The first table shows how the various factors involved in making an investment decision combine to influence the allocation of the e182.8bn allocated to third-party funds (as estimated by the respondents).

The key to the European Investor Focus results, however, is that they not only look at historical decision-making but also client loyalty and the important factors for future growth company by company, country by country for the 10 major European markets.

Whatever the detailed outcome of the latest round of negotiations for the freedom of access across Europe, the fund management world is de facto rapidly becoming panEuropean. Advisers in the UK and elsewhere are benefiting from a wider choice of investment vehicles to meet their clients’ investment objectives and risk profiles.


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