Mr Hill, you supported and moderated the organization of the “Financial Center Frankfurt meets Financial Center Liechtenstein” event in Frankfurt on 8 November 2023. What was the bridge to the topic of “Family Offices & Fund Boutiques”?
I was able to win Reiner Konrad from FOCAM AG in Frankfurt for a short presentation on the topic of “Family Offices, Fund Boutiques, and Manager Selection”. In Frankfurt, he gave a good overview of the importance of independent asset managers, asset allocation, and due diligence of the “hidden champions”. I suggested this topic because I thought it would be a good addition to the core topic of the event (private label funds & advantages of launching funds in Liechtenstein). The event of the “LAFV Liechtenstein Investment Fund Association” provided a good framework for an intensive discussion on topics such as Liechtenstein as a fund location (David Gamper and Bruno Schranz, LAFV), the international role of Liechtenstein (Isabel Frommelt-Gottschald, Ambassador I.E.), regulation (Dr. Reto Degen, FMA – Financial Market Authority Liechtenstein) and asset management and private label funds (Ralph Früh).
I was also able to speak to some of the visitors to the event in Frankfurt afterward. One key point was repeatedly mentioned as feedback. Liechtenstein had presented itself as a very focused service provider, also for “small” fund initiators (asset managers, asset managers, etc.), perhaps this could also be an approach for the fund industry there in 2024. I am neutral in my assessment of jurisdictions for the launch of funds, each location (Luxembourg, Germany, etc.) has its special advantages and its own “fan base”. I see a potential niche for Liechtenstein here, as many KVGs (Switzerland: “fund management company”) outside Liechtenstein are quite restrictive in their selection of potential fund partners as soon as funds do not promise the potential for high fund volume increases quickly right from the start. There is certainly an interesting segment of fund initiators that can be classified exactly between the very small and the very large fund volumes. Perhaps Liechtenstein can gain market share here over the next few years.
FOTO: Thomas Caduff & Markus Hill – „FINANZPLATZ SCHWEIZ trifft FINANZPLATZ LIECHTENSTEIN“ (Bild: www.fundplat.com)
You will be giving a keynote speech at the “Mountain Talks” in St. Moritz on 12.01.2024 and moderating a roundtable on the topic of “Family Offices & Fund Boutiques”. What points could be of interest here, for example?
I often deal with the topics of fund selection and seed money search on a project basis. I often find it interesting from which directions fund managers are often viewed here. It is not possible to produce an ad-hoc study on such a small scale. I am currently exchanging ideas with a large number of family offices in advance to take another look at the relationships between these market participants. In addition to these results, some “theory pie chart studies” may also be interesting, and perhaps I will also make some comments there.
The topics of communication (branding), financial education and networking, and the networking of players in the DACH region also seem interesting to me. During my “short survey” in the run-up to the event, there may be one or two qualitative “thoughts” that could perhaps provide a new perspective. Incidentally, I often see overlaps here in the assessment of liquid and non-liquid fund concepts. For example, I have already had ample opportunity to get to know a few alternative approaches to the communication behavior of family offices and fund boutiques at various other events in the DACH region this year in preparation for presentations. There are also overlaps because a “double hat” is often worn. Multi-family offices, single-family offices, and independent asset managers, for example, act as selectors on the one hand, but many also have their products (private label funds) on the other. Many of the event formats in the family office sector also thrive on the fact that many of these addresses with a “double hat” (for example: Multi-Family Office) are also looking for investors for their products or investments (co-investments, club deals, etc.). The difference to the many classic fund boutiques (“non-selectors”) is perhaps that the classic family officer cannot “market their products”, as this does not necessarily fit in with the “trusted advisor” theme. There is also a debate in the market as to whether a family office should offer its products at all. It’s an exciting field and I’m already looking forward to the discussion on site. To take a brief position here too: I think it’s fine for family offices to have skin-in-the-game with their products (investments etc.), if this positioning is transparent for clients, then this often seems to me to be a signal that certain family office concepts also express the fact that they have in-depth expertise in practice and can also provide real support for investments. It is often forgotten that this form of professional figurehead can also represent a risk: If the address does not deliver the desired results, then a shadow falls over the entire client relationship!
What topics are still on the agenda for you in 2024?
As mentioned above, I have worked intensively with liquid and non-liquid fund concepts over the years. For example, I had the opportunity to moderate two video discussion rounds with Telos and Artis ICM for premium sponsorships of the study “Preferences of institutional investors in real estate and alternative investments”. On the one hand, the results of the study were discussed, and on the other, there was an opportunity to discuss topics such as real estate and infrastructure investments in greater depth. The questionnaires for the current study will also be sent out to institutional investors shortly. The results are likely to be exciting against the backdrop of the significant changes in the interest rate landscape. It remains to be seen whether this year’s investor reluctance will turn into another “run” on alternatives. (Input, ideas, and suggestions for “AIF & MORE” are always welcome!) As an economist, topics from the infrastructure sector seem very interesting to me, with many fund concepts focusing on segments such as transportation, energy, and real estate. The focus is always on the eagle eye, and there is also an interface with topics such as “social issues” and private debt (keyword: “Financial Center Frankfurt meets Private Markets 2024”). I also find these areas interesting from a journalistic point of view because these fund structures have to be communicated in a completely different way due to regulatory requirements, with topics such as branding and professional expertise taking center stage. Financial education and content count, not “primitive” product promotion.
The topics of “fund selection” and “seed money search” will also be with me next year. It is interesting to note that many of the players in the start-ups, VC, and private equity segments can also always be linked to the topic of “family offices & fund boutiques” – if you want to see these interfaces. I have always greatly appreciated the opportunity to exchange ideas with “real” experts in this field. I have been involved in the liquid segment for many years due to several product research projects (manager selection, “reality check fund concept” & investor dialog, etc.), in the non-liquid segment I am often more of a “humble learner” – but with an increasingly steep learning curve. To pick up on the topic from above (Liechtenstein): the topic of “liquid versus non-liquid investments” and fund launches also often comes up in these discussions.
Looking forward to the talks at the “FONDS professionell KONGRESS” at the end of January 2024 in Mannheim and various other participants (presentations, moderations, media partnerships, etc.) in the DACH region. I will also continue to focus on the topic of “India”, hopefully, a small farewell party will also work out in February at the financial center in Frankfurt with an industry colleague I greatly appreciate, I would like to give a small speech in his honor, in combination with another topic. Here I have a location with a distant “India background” in mind, so to speak “Financial Center Frankfurt says FAREWELL!” in a small circle. I won’t lose sight of the topic of “Liechtenstein” either; I still have an interview to do here. In connection with such activities, I would like to “optimize” my activities on LinkedIn next year. Connecting the topic of the financial center (LinkedIn channels “Financial Center”: Frankfurt, Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria) always opens up new opportunities for me to exchange professional ideas. One new development in 2023, for example, was the activation of a “Financial Center Frankfurt am Main Group”; by the end of January, we should have exceeded the 1,000-follower mark. The group is a good addition to the Finanzplatz Frankfurt am Main channel (community, target for the end of January 2024: 7,500 followers). I think that the next year offers a good opportunity to network with the various financial centers in the DACH region more closely via LinkedIn. Thank you for your support in 2023, by the way!
Markus Hill has been an independent asset management consultant since mid-2005. His professional background includes companies such as SEB Bank (marketing/product management, investment banking) and Credit Suisse Asset Management (sales, asset management). His areas of activity include the management of mandates in marketing, PR, and fund selection. As former Head of Sales of mutual funds at an investment boutique (equities and bonds) and in external cooperation with a fund of funds manager, his focus is on small to medium-sized asset management companies. In addition, his journalistic work focuses on the topics of fund boutiques (fondsboutiquen.de) and the use of mutual funds by institutional investors as well as the selection of target funds in multi-management approaches. He is also interested in the financial center Frankfurt as a place for the exchange of ideas (finanzplatz-frankfurt-main.de).