Fund managers, like journalists, don't much like being introduced socially. "Meet So-and-so," beams ...
Fund managers, like journalists, don't much like being introduced socially. "Meet So-and-so," beams the gushy hostess. "He's a fund manager too." You eye each other with barely concealed hostility, running through megabytes of mental RAM hoping to pick up the face or the name and match it to a fund, a story, reported performance, scandal, promotionŠ something to give a steer on rank. The counterparty is doing the same
Mostly you drift away as soon as is decently possible and find someone outside the business to talk to. Imagine then, a dinner full of fund managers. At least I landed an Elder: years of experience, pots of money, bags of cunning and lashings of charm. Not an opportunity to be passed up. The Prince Charles-style stutter, faux humility, was a bit off-putting but the option of engaging the gobby lout on my left was not appealing
"D'you know," mumurs the Sage, "my niece gave me one of those Isa packs to look at the other day and I couldn't make head or tail of it. I wouldn't know what to advise her." Sure...it's hard to stoop to retail pennies when you've been handling funds of hundreds of millions all your life. But if it's good to talk, it is profitable to listen Š stocks, currencies, markets, personalities, anecdotes. The Ancient offered a free and comprehensive repertoire for no more than the occasional "Oh really?", "Yes, of course" and "So then what happened
Then, as all such conversations must, we arrived at hedge funds. Hated, envied and feared in equal measure, these vehicles and their drivers have the reputation of modern day highwaymen
Yet, confided my friend, they are just blokes like you and me. "Well, you, anyway," methought, knowing full well he's been with Sloane Robinson from birth
Tomorrow belongs to Hedge Funds, he argued, because the investment industry is polarising between those who can afford a little risk and decent money management, and those who can't. The former can expect expensive service but with superior returns. The rest cannot expect much, given increasingly onerous regulatory burdens
Even pension funds are flirting with the sector reputed to be mad, bad and dangerous to know
A walk on the wild side also appeals to many fund managers stuck in the traditional investment houses. The brightest and the best are getting bored, hemmed in by committees, compliance and pesky shareholders. These high-spirited beasts don't like their donkey harness. They make so much money so early on in their careers that they can't be bought so easily
Some, like Richard Chevenix-Trench (ex-Baring Asset Management), James Keene (ex-Nomura) and Mark Pearson (ex-Kleinwort Benson) have already made the leap from our own world to Planet Hedge Fund. Others are restless. There are rumblings at Gartmore, HSBC, Martin Currie, Invesco and Schroders
It's not just the individuals; the houses themselves fancy a crack at the high net worth individuals who keep the hedge fund managers in Bollie and beluga, according to the Sage. No-one is complaining that the flow of money into retail funds is drying up but $1.5bn into new European hedge funds in the six months to June this year is not a bad catch. His ambition is to emulate a man 30 years his junior Tom Ballantyne, who runs The Upper Mill Capital Appreciation Fund, from (of course) his converted old mill in Surrey
Two global vehicles
'Further plug advice gap'
Must appoint separate CEOs and boards
Advisers do come out well
Will report to Mark Till