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Survey finds global active long/short investment next trend for European fund managers

Thursday, November 15, 2012
Opalesque Industry Update - For the fourth quarter issue of The Cerulli Edge-Europe Edition, Cerulli Associates conducted qualitative research interviews with 14 pan-European fund groups to canvas their views on product design, distribution, and social media. We targeted captive fund groups with bank or insurance parents and independents with no distribution outlets of their own. We cover active and passive product providers, including those with exchange-traded fund (ETF) and tracker fund ranges.

Where fund groups have gaps in their product line-ups, development efforts are being poured into global strategies, not country funds. Cerulli expects more actively managed global high yield, global equity income, and global absolute return or total return funds to hit the shelves in the next 12 months.

New funds are more complicated. Many planned launches will make use of Undertakings for Collective Investments in Transferable Securities (UCITS) powers. A notable trend is that institutional and retail investors are moving out of long-only positions into long/short strategies.

"The accent is on active management," said Barbara Wall, a director at Cerulli Associates. "We do not anticipate seeing a whole host of global fund brands jumping into the ETF space.”

The greatest potential for fund sales tends to reside in the core European markets, according to interviewees. Germany tops the list, with France and Spain vying for second place. However, Nordic countries are coming up fast.

"While southern Europe was seen as the preferred region for fixed-income products, northern European markets, particularly the Netherlands and Scandinavia, were identified as being better suited to equity and multi-asset products," commented Yoon Ng, a Cerulli associate director.

"On the whole, preferences are for institutional business first, wholesale second, then a dip down from discretionary to guided architecture in advised retail, with mass retail mainly a distant and unfulfilled dream," Wall added.

Other Findings:

Distributor consolidation is a constant refrain across Europe. So far it is only reflected in shrinking figures in Spain and smaller falls in Italy. The bulk of our interviewees report a growing number of distributors for their funds across all other territories.

With increasing brand awareness and differentiation a key part of many managers' marketing strategies, Cerulli is surprised at the low level of social media integration. To leverage its full potential, social media should be integrated across functions, particularly in relation to marketing and corporate communications.

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