‘Fund Forum’ Panel Discussion – What Analysts are Looking for from Asset Managers Post Crisis

 

I will be leading a panel discussion with three senior manager research analysts at the Fund Forum in Boston on November 1st.  We will be discussing ‘post crisis’ evolution of fund/manager selection and what analysts are looking for from asset managers now.  A taste of the topics to be covered follows:

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Through the market turmoil and rapid evolution in the asset management industry over the last several years, one thing remains crystal clear. Decisions about the buying and selling of investment product are increasingly concentrated in the hands of manager research analysts.

Collectively, the global group of analysts who work within broker/ dealers, banks, RIAs, institutional consulting firms and other financial intermediaries are arguably the key client group for asset managers. Their opinions drive a sizable (and growing) percentage of the overall worldwide flows into and out of funds.

Given changes in regulatory environments, a fiercely competition landscape and the increased complexity of the investment environment, professional buyers using a highly sophisticated institutional selection process will eventually be the norm worldwide. Successful asset managers are structuring their organizations to prepare and capitalize on this development.

The strengthening role of the analyst is driving asset managers to reevaluate their approach to selling and supporting their products. Asset managers are using robust strategies for liaising with analysts and ensuring their needs are met.

Well-equipped and ultimately successful asset management firms understand the selection process and the mindset of the analysts who are responsible for driving a major portion of worldwide flows. They understand that developing strong relationships with analyst teams is a tremendous leverage point for their business.

These managers provide information and support that goes well beyond a factsheet and market commentary. They anticipate the need to support the analyst during shifting market phases and through changes in the investment product. They recognize that presenting to an analyst is not a sales pitch but a dialogue with a knowledgeable counterpart who a tremendous level of information at his or her fingertips.

Such managers recognize the particular challenges of the analysts’ job and seek to alleviate some of the pressure points through timely flows of information, with honesty and transparency.

Analysts tend to be a highly skeptical buyer group who work within an environment that is performance-driven, risk adverse and highly regulated – a complicated combination. Analysts don’t take kindly to being given the ‘hard sell’. They follow a structured decision making process and, in order to do so, need to have access to clear and concise sources of information about the investment product in view.

There are, as most recognize, already far more investment products available then are needed. Nonetheless, worldwide product proliferation is at an all time high. Further, the growing complexity of a new generation of products requires analysts perform sophisticated and careful analysis to get comfortable enough to render an opinion.

The converging of aspects of what once were called ‘alternative’ and ‘traditional’ are leading to an evolved playing field for managers and analysts alike. Complicating manners further, the commonly used approach to asset allocation and the theoretically tenets upon which it is based are being eroded at a rapid rate.

At the same time, the strength of ETFs, structured products, and a variety of other wrappers has pushed the competitive landscape for asset managers to new levels.

‘Post-crisis’, fund analysts are demanding even more from asset managers. The products they are interested in buying display attributes distinguishing them from successful products of the past. Innovative managers who can prove that they have the sustainable skills to develop and manage these products and service the sophisticated needs of analysts stand to gain; others will be left behind.

More information on the event and the panelists can be found at:

(http://www.icbi-events.com/fundsusa)