Henderson Global Investors, free from former parentage, is now looking to spread itself into the institutional space in addition to its historical retail IFA heartland.
This will involve a combination of IT systems changes to improve levels of service, different use of people, and introduction of new products says Philip Jefferson, director of UK wholesale.
“We want to put the name back in front, unlike being an also-ran,” he says of the AMP days.
Changes affecting desks in the equities business have already started producing results with the market starting to pay attention, Jefferson says.
Along with this is a holistic approach to the business, with the intention of introducing recognition of the total range of funds and product types offered.
The spectrum encompases onshore, offshore, hedge, multimanager, SRI, and property funds, and structured products.
“We’re good at all of it but people don’t know it” Jefferson adds.
A major point of change involves mindset, because the organisation is trying to turn away from playing the IFA space “in an old-fashioned way”.
With institutionalisation of the retail space, for example, in the area of pricing brought about by technology, it means Henderson must “modernise and upgrade”, Jefferson says.
With supermarkets and consultancies spreading to cover both institutional and retail ends of the industry, it is important for Henderson to do the same, looking beyond a historical links to independent distribution.
Jefferson says he is spending considerable time looking to meet and generate interest among institutional clients, which according to Henderson’s plans include discretionary managers, fund managers, banks and life companies.
This does not mean the provider will erode its support for the independent distribution channel.
Henderson is set to introduce new IT systems to improve its communication and service support to the IFA channel.
A new client account system will be in place by early February, and longer term there will be a goal of straight through processing.
The hope is that by early summer IFAs will feel they are getting more from Henderson, while at the same time there will also be developments on the side of institutional business, Jefferson says.
There are efficiencies to be gained by upgrading and improving, he adds.
In terms of product changes Henderson is looking to differentiate itself to boost its presence in both institutional and retail ends of the market.
Trends such as growing demand for SRI products are seen as an opportunity - demand is growing from both institutions and IFAs, because investors can now see returns in SRI, Jefferson says.
Henderson will shift its Ethical fund range into its Global Care range.
A structured product is being considered, subject to futher negotiations with the FSA as to approval. If approved it would consist of a UCITS III Oeic mirroring the MSCI Global Hedge Fund Index, which would give institutional clients indirect access to the hedge fund market.
Property is another area Henderson sees potential in as an asset manager, particularly for its funds with stakes in large shopping centres, which it feels could do well even if the UK retail market takes pause for breath.
Jefferson says figures suggest centres such as Bluewater in Kent are taking an increasing share of the UK retail “pie”, and the feeling is they are likely to continue doing so even if the overall growth of the pie slackens.
The one area in which major change is not expected is the Henderson logo, although the corporate message linked to that logo may be pushed in a different direction by the autumn.IFAonline
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