Transparency, both in official reporting and day-to-day communication, not only tops fund selectors’ demands, but lack of it is also the main criterion for deselection.
Cerulli Associates’ report entitled European Fund Selector 2015: Securing a Place on the Buy List has found that buyers value transparency of process above all else-including performance.
Fund selectors told Cerulli that since the financial crisis good communication has become even more important, not just for continuous updates, but also to provide granular information. New Cerulli research showed that fund buyers ranked investment process as the top factor in selection, followed by access to a portfolio manager. And they ranked performance third on the list.
“A well-run investment house should be transparent and accountable, therefore it should have no qualms about giving access to fund managers, to allow selectors to question their decisions or to clarify market events,” said Barbara Wall, Europe research director at Cerulli and one of the report authors.
But fund managers seem not to have grasped this concern yet and, as they did last year, rated performance as the top prerequisite to win business. They also rated poor fund performance as the primary sacking offence.
And despite access to portfolio managers having gained so much importance for selectors in the past year, this criterion ranks only eighth out of the 11 selection-winning factors that fund managers were asked to rate.
The dissonance between what selectors want and what fund managers think selectors want raises questions: Are fund managers not listening to their clients? Or are selectors not clear enough? Whatever the reason for this divergence in outlook, fund managers must find the best way to bridge the difference.
“Investment management is changing from a box-ticking exercise into a service, making fund managers partners, not just executors of a strategy,” said Angelos Gousios, an associate director at Cerulli and one of the report’s authors. “This change implies more work and the allocation of more resources to client meetings, but it is also a positive development that will lead to higher standards in the market,” he added.