Yet again it was great to see FundForum International becoming the three-day hub for 1400 of the world’s most successful, innovative and dynamic leaders in the global investment management community. With larger numbers than ever jetting in from North America, Asia, Australia, Latam, MENA and of course Europe, CEOs, CIOs, PMs and business heads from the mega heavy-weight houses met with ambitious boutiques, disruptors and the Who’s Who of European fund buyers and distributors.
Our creative programme of knowledge leadership and transformative ideas drove thousands of face-to-face conversations at the top level. Leaders came to do deals, build partnerships and get inspired by influencers from around the world.
With so much going on, these were my top seven take-aways for 2017.
1. Reinterpreting risk and behaviour is the #1 challenge in times of unprecedented global uncertainty
Over three mornings top geopoliticians, politicians, policy makers, out of industry opinion formers and leading CIOs told us what was not yet priced in the global, European and Asian markets ( a lot) – and why volatility isn’t greater is a mystery.
Top Tip: learn more about social sentiment
2. Distribution, Regulation, Fees: Is the customer finally king
While many firms are resetting the business model around MiFID II and redefining for what outcomes customers are prepared to pay, we heard how wholesale, sub-advisory, wealth management, unit linked distribution leaders are changing their strategies.
Top Tip: adopt a whole new collaborative approach to keep – or get – products on their shelves.
3. ETFs transform capital markets, factor investing re-interprets alpha, active vs passive is dead – it all about the blend
With consolidation and maturity in the factor space, few winners take all. Investors need to quickly upskill how to integrate into the portfolios.
Top Tip: publishing signal? –I don’t believe that ETFs will dominate the European market as much as the personal-finance magazine driven US market
4. Investment Strategy: finding yield means new alpha strategies
Alpha gets more alpha with illiquid investments, alternatives, emerging markets and systematic strategies. Investors need to get their heads around managing liquidity issues and longer term horizons in their allocations.
Top Tip: Redeploy talent
5. Green finance, ESG & social impact investing is going to be the next big wave
Driven by regulation and global people power against poor governance – and anti-Paris Trump, we now have the empirical evidence that sustainable investment in society and the real economy is just as, if not more, profitable than traditional investment.
Top Tip: Read Wired Magazine for investment trends
6. Digitisation is key to cutting costs as robo, WealthTech, and CX gets super savvy
But as digitisation enables better customer experience, how can we protect the customer from poor decision making or badly constructed platforms?
Top Tip: should we stop using the word FinTech?
7. Portfolio Diversification 2.0: Smart Fund buyers are evolving their skills
In light of indexation, passive funds and the digitalisation of fund selection.
Top Tip: They came to the Europe’s only best practice peer to peer gathering to discuss these themes– the FundForum Fund Buyer Academy in association with APFI
We've captured some of the key insights from FundForum in more detail via write ups, session recordings, and expert speaker interviews. We'll also be releasing details about our 2018 agenda shortly, and we look forward to seeing you again in Berlin, 11-13 June next year!