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What is in a name

It seemed fitting that in a week when Money Marketing hosted a roundtable on boutiques another one announces its intention to come to market and challenge some of the big houses for its market share.

Occam Asset Management is the brainchild of Jonathan Hughes-Morgan – the co-founder of Thames River Capital – who has quickly recruited a fund management trio in the shape of Mark Williams, Phil Cliff and Jon Greenhill with a view to launching Asian, Europe and Japan hedge funds at the end of November.

What this signals once again is the migration of a number of experienced managers across from the larger in-house culture, in this case Threadneedle, F&C and Lazards, to what is perceived to be more of a pure investment business not dictated to by sales.

One of the major issues that came out of this week’s roundtable, which you can read more about in the next few issues of Money Marketing, is the major hurdle of getting an initial demand for products without the massive sales campaigns that are so-easily undertaken by larger houses with larger purse strings.

The growth of platforms and the focus on pure investment are two such banners that boutiques are quite keen to fly, but what may well be the trump card is the ability to unveil a manager that can draw the advisers attention without having advertisements across every trade newspaper in order to keep them in the minds eye of every adviser who reads them.

One obvious example in PSigma, where managing director Ian Chimes is bringing together the Harlem Globetrotters of fund managers from Credit Suisse in order to give his new joint venture the continued momentum following the success of Bill Mott’s fund.

Others like Thames River have also managed to pull together some the best fund managers at their niche without going on massive campaigns, though the arrival of multi-manager duo Gary Potter and Robert Burdett will signal a one-off change in stance.

Hargreaves Lansdown head of research Mark Dampier says some boutiques will struggle initially as some advisers fail to look past the top-tier performing managers.

He says: “The two examples that jump out for me are the Ashburton offering which has done really well but is still in the shadows because it does not have the well known retail names and River and Mercantile which has a great manager like Dan Hanbury and would be much bigger were advisers to look past their elite list of 10 or 12 managers who do not need to sell their performance to the market.”

When Occam joins the party the acid test will be to see just how well-known these managers are without these massive marketing budgets behind their funds and whether they can get the momentum going at a time when hedge could well be set for a proliferation in the market.

For now boutiques do not look the best place for young talent to shine at the helm of a fund as experienced fund managers with silver tongues will continue to be the formula that keeps boutiques at the forefront of the investment picture.

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