The FundForum International conference, which is known throughout the industry, will take place in Monaco from June 24 to 27. The independent industry expert Markus Hill will moderate a panel discussion of German-speaking fund selectors on the topic of fund boutiques. IPE Institutional Investment Editor-in-Chief Frank Schnattinger spoke with him about the current situation of the fund industry in Germany.
IPE Institutional Investment: Mr. Hill, what topics will you discuss in your panel in Monaco?
Hill: First of all, the situation in Germany will be briefly outlined, market growth and current developments in the fund boutique and private label fund sector. Secondly, topics such as selection criteria, strengths, and weaknesses of independent asset managers will be discussed. The situation discussed for example: How interesting are fund boutiques from Germany? How interesting are fund boutiques from abroad? What can a foreign manager do to attract the interest of German fund selectors?
There also seems to be a need for discussion on the topic of fund or manager research. From various discussions with German family offices, one idea seems to be to increase international networking. Just this week, the topic came up again during a telephone conversation with a family office. How can an English or American family office help a German family office select English and American boutique managers? Of course, this is not a one-way street and also allows conclusions to be drawn about cooperation ideas from other investor groups: What can German fund selectors learn from foreign investors?
IPE Institutional Investment: You talk to fund selectors. What is the role of asset managers or product providers in your panel?
Hill: At FundForum International you will find the international representatives of the industry. In addition to investors, there are many professionals from the fields of marketing, sales, business development. Many of these experts are now looking at Germany through rosier glasses – Germany as a “hub” in the middle of Europe can become increasingly interesting for market entry, alongside Luxembourg. Despite all the Europe bashing and the Asia hype, there is also the trend that Germany is seen by foreigners as a “Great Switzerland”, admittedly, as a Frankfurt resident, I have to be considered biased with this opinion. The location is attractive, centrally located, and has an excellent infrastructure, also in the area of the fund industry.
IPE Institutional Investment: …and Luxembourg?
Hill: Many of the German investment companies also have subsidiaries in Luxembourg. Fund launch combination with direct sales support in German-speaking countries may be an option. In general, investment companies from Germany and Luxembourg benefit from their central location, unlike London. Houses like Universal-Investment, IPConcept, Hauck & Aufhäuser, and many others will optimize their business models fund launch and sales support. This trend has been emerging for quite some time.
IPE Institutional Investment: How do you see the value of conferences? What can be a realistic expectation of these events?
Hill: I see mainly the value in the professional exchange of ideas. It depends on the event format – there are renowned specialist conference formats like in Monaco and specialist congresses in Germany. In July, I will participate in a foundation panel in Frankfurt, which will focus on topics such as investment options in the low-interest-rate environment and independent asset management. These kinds of specialist discussions, similar to the one in Monaco, will allow one actively to engage in dialog with investors and product providers. The investors needs and expectations of the fund industry is conducted without a “sales climate”. As an industry expert who talks to many market participants, one is often surprised at how many communication barriers there are in some market segments.
But other formats focus purely on investors. When I look at products and managers for clients frequently, I notice a difference in the atmosphere of these events, completely value-free. Such formats as business breakfasts or events by asset managers for investors and consultants often appear to be more “limited” in their scope. It is to the advantage of one or the other visitor – as you already remarked, it depends on the expectations. If you don’t expect the “fast ticket” at specialist conferences and investor events, the exchange of professional ideas can broaden your horizons considerably.
IPE Institutional Investment: Thank you very much for and good luck with your panel, also in Frankfurt.