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Time line

The earliest seeds of PSigma Asset Management were sown at private client stockbroker Buckmaster & Moore in the 1970s.

Veteran manager Bill Mott started at the firm in 1977 and was joined a year later by fellow PSigma founding partner Graham Fuller.

Swiss giant Credit Suisse bought the firm in 1988 and third PSigma partner Ian Chimes joined in 1993, primarily to sell Mott’s increasingly successful income funds.

Income and monthly income became two of the UK’s most popular portfolios over the next decade, with Mott among the few managers not won over by technology stocks.

Meanwhile, Fuller left in 1994 and went on to have a successful career at Newton, heading the balanced segregated pension business.

The three kept in contact, however, and all found themselves ready for a new venture in 2006.

Chimes had recently left his MD role at Credit Suisse while Fuller had retired from Newton and Mott was looking to step back from day-to-day responsibility on his funds.

At this point, Punter Southall entered the fray, offering the three an opportunity to go back to basics in investment terms.

PSigma Asset Management subsequently opened its doors in January 2007, with the three founders owning 50 per cent and Punter Southall the remaining half.

An income fund for Mott was clearly top priority and quickly won assets from clients keen to access a manager that most thought was retiring from the business.

PSigma income took over £100m in a two-week offer period in April and is now around the £400m mark, creeping ahead of Mott’s former Credit Suisse income portfolio.

As is typical in these situations, Mott, in particular, had found non-investment activity taking up more and more of his time at Credit Suisse. According to Chimes, the boutique environment has effectively given them back control of their time, with Mott only involved in limited marketing activity, for example.

The manager has set aside every other Wednesday for him to meet clients, leaving nine uninterrupted days in between to get on with running money.

Mott has made headlines for a contrarian bullish call on banks for much of this year as well as criticising the Bank of England’s behind-the-curve interest rate policy.

The team stresses that they are now purely focused on investment and this is evident from aligning their interests with those of clients. Mott’s entire pension is in his fund, for example, meaning that he will benefit and suffer alongside his investors.

Like most boutique founders, PSigma’s senior staff were also attracted by various cultural benefits that a smaller firm can offer.

Key among these is working with the right people and Credit Suisse links are evident right through PSigma.

Chimes looked to established relationships to launch further products, outsourcing a US equity mandate to New-York- based James Abate.

He ran the successful Credit Suisse Transatlantic fund for several years in the 1990s and is bullish on prospects for the US market next year.

Elsewhere, PSigma European income is run by 2CG, with one of the managers, Chris Garsten, also working at Credit Suisse earlier in his career.

Finally, the last fund in the range, UK growth, is run by Neil Cumming, who learned his trade under former Mott protege Tim Gregory at Prolific.

Gregory has also worked at the Punter Southall group for several years, focusing on the private client side.

These outsourcing arrangements are a key part of the business model, keeping fixed costs to a minimum. This lets the group to keep control of its own destiny, particularly in tough markets, as it is not forced to reduce headcount.

Mott’s fund has also continued to take in money this year while most of the market is suffering redemptions, which has helped boost morale against a tough background.

Looking forward, the business has set out to be boutique by style but mainstream in product, with UK, European and US equity offerings so far.

Many other boutiques are known for esoteric products but PSigma was keen to start out delivering core product that will deliver year in year out.

In the current depressed environment, several people are moving around and Chimes says it may prove an ideal time to introduce new managers or link-ups if opportunities arise.


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