In October 2014, Union Financière de France launched an asset management arm, Myria AM.
Union Financière de France (UFF) had an asset management subsidiary previously. The story goes back to before the Millennium. When that closed, UFF’s funds were sheltered by Aviva Investors France, being run under a selective open architecture with long term partners to which UFF was giving mandates.
The company diversified itself with CGP Entrepreneurs, an independent financial adviser focused platform selling products it selects, but not under the UFF brand.
Last year UFF reawakened ambitions in multimanagement with the launch of Myria AM.
“The purpose of Myria AM dwells in a light structure that can fit the needs of investors more quickly than it can in large asset management groups. Myria AM’s structure allows flexibility for UFF and CGP Entrepreneurs networks,” says Pierre Bismuth (pictured), managing director and head of Asset Management of Myria AM.
“Our client is the UFF financial offering, whose role is tailoring Myria AM’s offer. We have been repatriating UFF equity fund mandates that Aviva Investors France sheltered until October 2014,” he adds.
At the end of the chain, retail investors account for 80% of UFF’s final clients, companies the other 20%.
After its first full year, Myria AM posted €2.7bn in assets in multimanagement and €700m in funds of funds.
Bismuth explains that the financial crisis of 2008 “wrecked the multimanagement segment” and that it has “also suffered from the alternative management with hedge funds and Madoff’s story.”
“The network sees us positively because we have been created to serve it and our products fit UFF and CGP Entrepreneurs’ customers’ needs. By having access to the network, our position can be seen as privileged,” he adds.
Among mandates, the largest one, UFF Euro Valeur with €900m of assets under management, is managed by Aviva Investors France. Other companies mandated by Myria AM to manage UFF funds include Financière de l’Echiquier, Carmignac, Schroders, Aberdeen and Pioneer.
By the end of the year, two other UFF funds will be repatriated from Aviva Investors France, of which one is diversified. Myria AM does not assign bond fund mandates to multimanagement.
None has been given to passive strategies either, but the firm could consider it as “an option on a long term perspective.”
“Our mission consists of checking that mandates given by UFF are well applied. If we spot anything wrong, we meet the managers in order to discuss the management process,” Bismuth says.
He asks for full clarity in terms of conformity and transparency of managers’ processes.
The selection made by Myria AM is primarily based on the comparison of risk adjusted best performances.
“We look at the organisation globally rather than the manager himself. But we have a few star managers because their performances are in line with their status like Romain Burnand from Moneta for instance,” Bismuth says.
“The ‘one man one process’ story does not work for mandates. Calculating value at risk and risk reporting remain important for me as, in the end, I am responsible for supervising funds I am not managing.”
FUNDS OF FUNDS
Besides multimanagement, Myria AM runs seven funds of funds and tries to position itself as a flexible manager.
Its largest fund of funds remains diversified with some €370m in assets under management. In fund selection for Fof, the firm looks for products whose beta is easily hedged.
“What matters to us is having a stable beta and risk efficiently managed rather than focusing on fund performance,” Myria AM’s managing director says, arguing that asset allocation in Fof is more interesting than the fund selection itself.
“There is room for improvement on the global equities side. We hope that we can make it a key allocation for UFF’s advisors,” he emphasises.
(Photo credit ADM-UFF)