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Research houses agree on something - a winner

This blog runs the risk of being seen as a little sycophantic – I hope it isn’t taken that way. It's genuine, as you will find out at the end.

Tuesday, March 10th 2015, 6:46PM 2 Comments

by Philip Macalister

I always enjoy heading off to a Fund Manager of the Year awards, not necessarily for the awards, but just to catch up with lots of people.

Like others I had been a little cynical about them, and this view was particularly tainted when many years ago it appeared one firm did very well in picking up gongs, not for its funds management prowess, but for the size of its wallet.

Whether this is true or not we will probably never know. Maybe another MH370 mystery.

The other slightly cynical part is that awards, and selling licences to the winners to promote their success, is a major revenue line for all research houses that hand out gongs. Good on them if they can get the signature and cheque.

This year at the Morningstar Awards I had a bit of a moment. ANZ Investments won the thing yet again. And this award lined up with the other research house -  FundSource had also given its top gong to ANZ.

With ANZ so consistently picking up awards I had to ask, what do they do to achieve this?

There’s only one approach to this and that’s to ring the boss John Body.

One of the things that is distinctive is that ANZ is the last of the big fund managers who embraces financial advisers and also lives and breathes belief in active management.

As Body says ANZ has an “unwavering commitment to being an active manager”.

Undoubtedly there is still some resentment towards the company following the CDO debacle. However, as I have argued before, ANZ did more to compensate customers than any other product manufacturer which was exposed in the GFC, including finance companies.

Body says ANZ has an “incredibly high focus on value and good governance”. As he says the process is designed to “eliminate mistakes”.

He also acknowledges “organisations learn from their mistakes” and that “banks are good at governance as they have to be”.

As a big fund manager (and being part of New Zealand’s largest bank) the wealth management business “uses its scale to reinvest in the business”.

Its scale can get it access to better pricing, and global managers.

And why is this not sycophantic? Recently I switched my KiwiSaver from Fisher Funds to ANZ. It was nothing to do with gongs, advertising or anything else. My determination was they are damn good at managing money.

Tags: ANZ John Body Morningstar

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Comments from our readers

On 11 March 2015 at 10:59 am R1 said:
An interesting read for people who favour our banks (that are owned by the big 4 across the ditch)for investment advice and products:

It would be reasonable to assume that similar if not the same circumstances exist in NZ. Caveat emptor I guess.
On 13 March 2015 at 3:54 pm RiskAdviser said:
Nice Commentary Phillip, albeit an aussie bank, but positive and reasoned commentary when it's often the opposite in the market.

Thanks for the additional article R1, people making decisions in an informed frank way only helps us. What I do have to say is, while we are all in business to make money, for a good number of advisers the money isn't the primary motivation.

This needs to be said as the perception that all adviser are driven solely by commission is frankly untrue. Money is a motivator, don't get me wrong, it will be the primary driver for some. Personally when it comes to my clients, if I don't have a better solution than what they currently have, then the recommendation is stick with what you have.

The issues that come from switching or stitching, in these situations are just not worth considering, if you genuinely care about your clients. I know many risk advisers that do care, they care a great deal. If they didn't they wouldn't put up with the conditions and the challenges the industry has.

Giving advice in a market that doesn't seek it, often doesn't value it but damn well wants it when it gets difficult is a constant battle of wits and draining energy, those that genuinely are driven to see the positive outcomes from what we do, continue to do it and do it well.

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