Hogan Lovells hosted the Reading Real Estate Foundation Breakfast Forum (RREF) on 4 March. RREF is a registered charity that provides support for real estate and planning education at the University of Reading.
The event featured presentations by:
- Andrew Creighton, Head of Segregated Property Mandates, Aberdeen Asset Management;
- David Paine, Head of Real Estate, Standard Life; and
- Jos Short, Founding Partner and Executive Chairman, Internos Global Investors.
The question to be debated was, with the continuing M&A activity in the fund management sector, is bigger always better or will there continue to be room for the small players to make their mark?
Perhaps predictably Andrew Creighton (from Aberdeen who have £324.4bn assets under management) and David Paine (from Standard Life who have £266.2bn assets under management) were of the opinion that bigger is better, whilst Jos Short (from Internos who have just 110 staff) made his case for the small guys.
Andrew Creighton supported his view with his STRIPE theory: that bigger fund managers benefit from Scale, Teamwork, Research, Investment process, Performance and Expertise.
Key themes to emerge in favour of the larger companies were the broad range of expertise and specialist skills, economies of scale and sophisticated investment processes. The attraction of brand often attracts clients and opens doors to emerging markets.
Jos Short countered these arguments with the view that smaller fund management firms are more innovative and entrepreneurial in their approach to fund management, can make decisions more efficiently and are therefore more responsive to the needs of clients. Jos also noted that he believes senior personnel in smaller firms are highly involved with funds on a day to day basis.
The presenters all agreed that there is always a place for the players who spearhead creativity and entrepreneurialism regardless of size.