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Comment: Fund boutiques, private label funds and investment companies – investors and the art of harmonious dialogue

„There is no freedom without mutual understanding“ (Albert Camus). In modification of this thought, one could also say that the freedom to make good investment decisions should go hand in hand with an understanding of people and concepts.

Many independent asset managers (fund boutiques) have been using various event formats for years to present what makes them and their concepts special. These events vary in size, scope, time and orientation. Which formats are available? Which target groups should be addressed? Which approaches can be considered more in the direction of increasing brand awareness (visibility, brand building), which approaches come closer to business development?

Fund industry and industry events

Formats such as the Institutional Money Congress and the BVI Asset Management Conference, including the BAI Alternative Investment Conference, often provide a platform for dialogue in the fund industry. Characteristics of such formats are often the strong media presence (specialist publications) and the different focuses and objectives. Without evaluation – there are formats here that focus more on brand awareness among established asset managers and there is a different weighting in the participant groups. Similar events like the ones mentioned above exist in a large number nationwide.

Some have a stronger character of „industry talks to industry“, others are more in the direction of „industry talks to investors“. For fund boutiques that have already reached a „noteworthy“ size (AuM), these events can be used to increase brand awareness among institutional investors or to raise visibility in the specialist media. An interesting effect for the fund industry from asset managers of „noteworthy“ size (fund boutiques and affiliated asset managers) is that their sponsorship of such formats still generates positive spill-over effects from an economic perspective: Dialogue within the industry is promoted, there is, so to speak, an additional diffusion of knowledge within and outside the industry (investor education etc.).

Investment companies, fund boutiques and investor dialogue

Various investment companies have specialised in the launch of private label funds for bank-independent asset managers (fund boutiques). Examples include companies such as Universal-Investment, Ampega, Hansainvest, Axxion, IPConcept, LRI Group and Hauck & Aufhäuser. Many of these companies offer various forms of marketing and sales support for their fund initiators. This support can take the form of increased brand awareness (public relations) or increasingly business development („sales component“). Formats in the event area can be designed differently here:

1. the investment company can offer its own events Using its own distribution list (investor contacts) and in combination with increased PR activities).

2. the investment company or fund initiators themselves can invite investors together with other investment companies.

3. the investment company can use external service providers or refer fund initiators (sponsoring, partial sponsoring, etc.).

Fund boutiques and the dialogue with investors

In the fund boutique sector there are many small houses, some funds start with fund volumes of five to ten million euros, whose „fund managers“ (fund advisors) are often not very well known at the beginning and who, for business management reasons, are unable to set up their own sales force at the beginning. Here, direct contacts with investors are helpful in addition to public relations (media). If the investment company has its own sales force (examples: Universal-Investment, Ampega etc.), the network can be very valuable for the boutiques.

Of course, investment companies can only provide selective support here. The large number of fund boutiques in the individual houses alone means that this is where the focus must be. Investment companies and its sales department can also only concentrate more on the fund initiators, who for example have a very interesting „story“ (topic, track record, personality and history of the fund initiator, level of awareness, etc.). In addition, many of the fund boutiques will sooner or later have their own sales staff, and placement agents are also used in individual cases („third party distribution“). If internal models, existing or planned, are provided with pricing models for support at investment companies, the process of customer protection, „ticket allocation“ etc. will also begin.

This is the key point in the communication with investors: Due to the variety of boutiques, investment companies in this case offer platforms which, due to the wide choice of invitations to events, meet with increased interest among investors – whether in their own formats or formats in conjunction with external service providers (examples: Auf.Den.Punkt. as Ampega format, UI-ChampionsTour at Universal-Investment, Asset Management Days at houses like Hauck & Aufhäuser, Hansainvest etc.). We should also mention here individual formats at fund boutiques themselves (DJE, Flossbach von Storch etc.), where different initiators come together, fund requirements often at different investment companies. In addition, there are a large number of events organised by the fund initiators themselves, often using other external organisers.

Fund boutiques and „Hidden Agenda“: Public Relations versus Business Development?

Usually most investment companies offer active PR support for your fund initiators. This increases the visibility of heads and concepts. In the industry, there are also a large number of platforms and external service providers in this area which investment companies can access directly or which are often recommended to fund initiators.

A very interesting fact can be observed in the industry: many fund boutiques speak of PR and visibility, but often actually mean the area of business development in the sense of sales, the direct contact to the investor. Background: The experience with the classic area of PR is that of course the pure writing and publishing of articles in the media has a large scatter loss compared to direct sales efforts (point-of-sale contact).

To be fair, it has to be said that this is in the nature of public relations and that the chain „publication-immediate-ticket-from-customer“ does not exist. However, there are many small houses where the areas of long-term thinking in the field of communication and direct sales can still show conflicts (optimisation potential). Why? Every distributor also has a hard time presenting unknown or little known products or heads – the distribution of fund boutiques often resembles the area of „artist promotion“ – to investors. One area reaches into the other, and it is not without reason that one speaks of a marketing mix.

Outlook

Those investment companies, which credibly manage to offer fund initiators added value over and above pure fund administration have excellent chances with private label fund initiators (fund boutiques). To put it more precisely: with a very specific category of fund boutiques. This added value can be the active offering of internal and external service providers for marketing support – from PR to sales, to various other service partners in the investment company’s network. It can consist in the selective direct distribution of the funds, it can consist in the mediation of seed money, in the support or sponsoring of investor events or in the organisation of special „added value idea exchange formats“ for the own fund initiators and prospects in this segment. It is often forgotten that each of the investment companies also has its own „face“: Alignment, size, specialisation on certain target groups, but also the quality of the employees. The direct, fruitful dialogue between fund boutiques, investment companies and investors is also subject to constant striving in dialogue: „Harmony between two people is never a given. It must be conquered again and again“ (Simone de Beauvoir).


Source: www.institutional-investment.de
Photo: www.pixabay.com

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