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Profile: behind the scenes of Sanlam PI's £1bn buy list

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by Danielle Levy on Dec 05, 2013 at 00:01

A move towards centralised investment processes and model portfolios is ironically making big funds even bigger and causing funds to close – irritating those that backed the funds in the first place.

Paul Surguy, head of managed funds at Sanlam Private Investments (SPI) who was recently selected for Wealth Manager’s Top 100 of UK fund selectors, recognises this. In his view, fund groups must make sure they communicate with buyers ahead of fund closures.

While he acknowledges that Aberdeen and First State’s decisions to soft-close their respective emerging markets funds should be commended, he says the rise of models and concentration in fund buying means further closures are inevitable. More than ever, this creates a need for some form of industry guidelines on the topic.

‘I think they have done the right thing in closing the door. It is irritating but I would not say it is table-banging irritating as they have done it to protect investors, and that is what we are all here for. We are stewards of investor capital,’ Surguy says. ‘In a way, I wish there was an industry standard for closing funds.’

Unlike some of its competitors, SPI is fortunate that it does not run model portfolios internally but rather ‘suggested portfolios’, which means that a closure does not spell a forced sell for the firm.

Nonetheless, as buying becomes more concentrated across investment houses Surguy expects funds that make it onto coveted buy lists will grow more quickly in the future.

 

Although this may make it feel like there is less choice for selectors, he takes comfort from the sheer amount of up-to-date data that is now available.

‘There isn’t less choice out there but sometimes it feels like there is and the amount of data that is available through systems is bigger. We are a heavy user of that and we are competent at it.’

Given that Surguy graduated with a degree in computer science and initially worked in Principal’s technology team, the interest in data perhaps comes as no surprise.

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