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The quiet sacking of a manager

Monday, July 18th 2005, 7:47PM

by Philip Macalister

One of the more interesting press releases recently - and one which didn't get a lot of mention was this one from the NZ Superannuation Fund.

Essentially the guardian of our money dumped one of its managers and replaced it with another.

The manager in question, which most of us never would have heard of, looked after $120 million in the emerging markets area.

To me it illustrates a couple of things. One is the people in a fund management firm are its most important assets - you've heard all the clichés about intellectual capital going up and down in the lift each day.

Over the years I have observed that when a key person or people leaves a firm, it often struggles to a) keep money and b) maintain performance.

This, obviously, is a general rule. There are some crowds that have managed to keep things reasonably together when people move.

The other thing is how winning an NZ Super mandate isn't a job for life. Managers I have spoken to say the due diligence process is exhaustive. And from what we have heard it isn't necessarily a high paying job. The NZ Super Fund is tight on fees, yet many of these businesses have to pay the price of ramping up their organisation.

Another issue is the image/brand issues. Many managers who have won mandates are understandably proud and use it to help grow their businesses.

However, the dumping of a high profile, or well-known manager in the New Zealand market would be a minor credibility crisis - no doubt it will get more attention than this recent sacking.


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