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Another boutique to open

Another boutique fund manager is on the way, adding to a spate of new start-ups experts say is a result of special circumstances as well as industry growth.

Tuesday, February 11th 2014, 6:00AM

by Niko Kloeten

Darryl Briggs of Harbour Asset Management and John Phipps of AMP Capital, who have both resigned from their jobs, are set to launch a new boutique once they finish serving their respective notice periods. 

They will reportedly take over the $27 million AMP Capital New Zealand Equity Opportunity Fund, which Phipps manages.

Neither Briggs nor Phipps responded to Good Returns inquiries yesterday but others spoken to said the pair’s plans were well known.

While the boutique doesn’t have a name yet, it would be the latest in a number of new ventures by prominent names in fund management in the past 12 months.

Salt Funds Management launched last May with a $650 million mandate from Westpac-owned BT Funds, while Castle Point Funds Management, run by Tower’s former equity team, launched in November. 

And Generate Funds, which features former Fisher Funds manager Warren Couillault, launched a KiwiSaver scheme last year.

Morningstar co-head of fund research Chris Douglas said he had known about the latest plan for a new boutique for some time.

“John resigned just before Christmas.  I spoke to him when he resigned, which was about six weeks ago, and he made it clear what his plans were then.”

Douglas said the growing number of new managers entering the market was good for the industry as well as consumers.

“You want more fund managers, more competition for investors’ money.  It makes fund managers keep their fees competitive and do the best job they can.  It’s a great result for investors.”

But Douglas said there was no guarantee the current spate of start-up activity in the sector would continue this year.

“You need to look at where a number of these boutiques have come from,” he said. 

“There was Castle Point, which was created after Fisher Funds took over Tower and didn’t bring in any of their equity team.  Then there was Salt, which was Westpac spinning out its New Zealand equities team into a boutique. So whilst it’s a positive, it’s largely the result of corporate activity.”

Pathfinder executive director John Berry said there was no single reason for all the new boutiques being set up in recent years.

“It may be people have reached the time in their careers when they’re looking for a new challenge, or it may be they see an opportunity for a type of fund that isn’t being catered for.  There’s also been a lot of industry consolidation and that’s probably driven it as well.”

Mint Asset Management chief executive Rebecca Thomas said one of the reasons for the growth in the boutique market was that some of the bigger fund managers are reaching capacity. “We think $750 million is the maximum amount you can manage in a New Zealand equity portfolio in terms of your ability to get in and out efficiently.”

Niko Kloeten can be contacted at niko@goodreturns.co.nz

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