Ruth Sullivan

Just about everyone would like to make some amendments to the proposed EU regulations for the alternative investment industry, from hedge funds to governments, industry consultants and pension schemes.

The latest laments come from Mercer, the pension consultants, and their pension fund clients who agree the industry needs improvement and better supervision but call for Brussels to take a broader look outside the EU to see what is happening to the industry on a global regulation front.

Ruth Sullivan

Specialist pension buy-out companies will not be cheered by the latest analysis of their faltering sector.

Buy-out specialists that sprang up a few years ago to take over liabilities of defined benefit schemes got off to a strong start but the market has fallen flat in the financial crisis.

Ruth Sullivan

Big business slow tackle climate change issues

Big business slow tackle climate change issues

There has never been more campaigning to reduce carbon emissions yet progress from global companies to tackle the challenges of climate change is moving at a snail’s pace.

And so it is with a third of the 300 largest companies on the FTSE All World index – all of which are have a high impact on the climate, according to research from Eiris, the responsible investment research organisation.

Ruth Sullivan

Cost cutting is never far from people’s thoughts even in the hazy days of August.  It seems some of those working in London’s asset management industry have redundancies on their minds this summer, with the gloomiest view coming from fund managers owned by banks.

Nearly two thirds expect more job cuts to loom on the horizon this year, according to  a survey of over 200 asset managers by efinancialcareers.com Such a pessimistic outlook is not surprising given that many banks have been mulling whether to sell off their asset management arms to focus on their core business, while others have put up the “for sale” sign only to take it down again because the price is not right.

But there is a ray of hope too. Fund managers working in multi-strategy boutiques are the most bullish with the majority of them confident their headcount would remain unchanged.

Perhaps they are drawing confidence from another piece of research that Penrose Financial carried out this week where the investment industry expects multi-strategy asset management businesses that offer alternative and traditional investments to emerge as the winning model in the financial crisis.

Those in the multi-strategy part of the business were also more upbeat on future hiring prospects.

Views on hiring and firing activity in the coming six months may be mixed depending which part of the industry individuals come from. But the sense of relief of those who have survived the first six months of the year is shared and must be palpable.

Ruth Sullivan

First there was the product, then the book and now the movie. Well at least a film of exchange traded funds, starring ETF queen Debbie Fuhr, Andrew Clare, asset management professor at Cass Business School and Justin Urquhart-Stewart, founder of Seven Investment Management. 

Ruth Sullivan

Stay focused

Stay focused

Sun and sand make their siren call in August, tempting investors to a remote island or perhaps a crowded European beach. After all, summer tends to be a quiet time for stock markets with low trading volumes, or at least that’s what holidaying investors like to think.

But what happens if unexpected economic news or currency trends trigger sharp stock market moves, asks Colin McLean, managing director of SVM Asset Management? It has happened before. This time two years ago, world markets were in turmoil as the credit crunch began to bite, and August was an abysmal month for hedge funds as they hit summer blues and most hedge strategies failed to perform.

In July and August 2008 there was a sharp market rotation from resources to financial stocks, while this summer’s surprise is a continuing strong recovery in commodity prices, driven by encouraging growth in China, Mr McLean reminds us.

And today Barclays unveiled interim profits of nearly £3bn, helped by BarCap, the bank’s investment banking arm, while equities rose to the highest levels of the year.

But whether the markets head north or south, Mr McLean recommends staying cool and avoiding any hasty decisions. So just in case there is a really big surprise over the next few weeks, shake the water out of your eyes, make sure your laptop screen is not obscured by the sun, and take a deep breath before pressing send.

Ruth Sullivan

Protectionist stance

Protectionist stance

The European Union’s draft rules on alternative investments have drawn a storm of protest from hedge funds, equity funds and even investment trusts. Today, the global hedge fund industry association took the battle a step further.

Such a ruling will make it so difficult and expensive for non-EU funds and managers to access the EU market that it would have huge consequences, particularly in North America and Asia Pacific, the Alternative Investment Management Association warns.

Ruth Sullivan

Confidence creeping back?

Confidence creeping back?

In spite of turbulent markets, investor caution is beginning to give way to a more confident mood at least in terms of timing.

The full findings of the Investment Management Association’s biannual report show nearly half of UK private investors think it’s a good moment to put money into funds, and into equities – but that’s not to say they are ready to lay out more money than last year.

Ruth Sullivan

It's not just banking regulation that needs tightening

It’s not just banking regulation that needs tightening but private pension schemes are badly in need of better governance and stronger oversight.

The OECD is calling for both in new guidance issued today, rolling out a blueprint with recommendations on governance, funding, investment and the rights of pension plan members.

Ruth Sullivan

many are up for sale

Private jets: many of the super-rich have been forced to put their jets up for sale

We are used to hearing the rich are getting richer but the credit crunch last year has taken its toll. Now it seems the rich are getting poorer faster than anyone else.

This is certainly a change of direction for wealthy investors as Merrill Lynch unfurls its global wealth management annual report today.

About the blog

FTfm is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

FTfm's specialist writing team offer their insights into the global fund management industry.

About the authors

Pauline Skypala has been editor of FTfm for four years having previously been deputy personal finance editor. She joined the FT in 1999 and has been writing on savings and investment issues throughout her career.

Steve Johnson, FTfm deputy editor, has been a journalist for 17 years, 10 of which have been with the FT.


Sophia Grene, reporter on FTfm, has been a financial journalist in print and online for 12 years.

Ruth Sullivan has worked as a financial/business journalist and foreign correspondent and for the past 10 years has been at the FT.

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