The most important thing I do each year is put together the agenda for FundForum International, the world’s largest investment management conference. As the event takes place in June, it is perfectly placed to assess the year so far and set the scene for the rest of the year and beyond.
We spend a lot of time thinking about what the biggest stories in the wider sphere of asset management will be. We then structure the agenda around those stories.
Here are four of the biggest themes that we think will shape asset management in 2017 and beyond.
Big Story #1:
Politics and policy now drive asset allocation and investment
It is now clear from seismic political shock after political shock that the old models are inadequate for predicting political and investment risk. With the bond bull market over and correlations rising sharply, the challenge of how to build a diversified portfolio that drives yield and manages risk is greater than ever.
2017 will be the year fund buyers and asset managers challenge traditional asset allocation and diversification models. What does investment look like in 2017 to ensure our end customers get the returns they need? Short term speculation or longer term engagement?
Our agenda is designed to help asset managers radically reshape how they think about the future.:
- Hear geopolitical keynotes exclusively from the few players who called Brexit and Trump correctly from Dr Pippa Malmgren to Dr John Hulsman and pollster Jean-Pierre Kloppers
- Attend workshops on new ways of predicting and managing investment risk in unpredictable times.
- The state of Europe and the state of Asia. See top politicians Dr Yanis Varoufakis or former US ambassador to the EU, Antony Gardner discuss policy and security implications. Hear from former Jack Ma associate, Porter Erisman on how Alibaba and Tencent are transforming Asian investment models.
- The future of globalisation and the implications for investment. Don’t miss top CEOs and CIOs such as Michael O Sullivan, Credit Suisse Wealth Management or Bjorn Jesch, Union Private Wealth on where and how to find yield for our customers
Big Story #2:
A new approach to investment strategy: passive surges and a new USP for active
When plain-vanilla ETFs are almost free and evidence shows a small minority of active funds out-perform the benchmark, the rest are high-cost closet-trackers. Time is up for old active.
Looping in Big Story #1 (see above), 2017 is a year when investors rethink how they build portfolios from the ground up. There is no one “right” way to tackle portfolio construction in 2017, but it will include passive.
Time is up for old active.
Add this to the regulation driven transparency revolution and we think 2017 is the year that investors get educated about the new reality - at the FundForum’s Buyers Academy in fact!
Our investment strategy sessions will show CEOs, CIOs, PMs and fund buyers the new winning active and passive value propositions. You can’t compete on price - so what are the options?
- We’ve got a wide array of institutional and retail investors and top asset manager CIOs ready to offer alternate views such as Oliver Rousseau, Executive Director, FRR - Fonds De Reserve Pour Les Retraites; Niklas Ekvall, CEO, AP4 or Steven Jones, CIO, Kames.
- Alpha gets more alpha: small group buyer led discussion on how investors such as Michael Regy, Merrill Lynch, Dan Kemp, Morningstar or Andrew Summers, Investec are using illiquid, long term, alternative investments to find yield and manage volatility.
- Alpha is being reinvented by passive. Participate in workshops on how the rise of factor investing, smart beta and machine learning is set to change everything.
- What will intermediaries and end investors pay for? Hear from Mark Wiedman, ishares on why and how are intermediary investors are (or are not) incorporating passive.
Big Story #3:
How to reset the business and distribution model
Emanating from the drivers of Big Story #2, the global regulation revolution changes everything.
In Europe, MiFID II turns business models and economics of distribution on its head demanding new ways of thinking. How do you move from product push to a solution provide model and prove the value of your product to justify a fee?
Add this to the passive challenge and it's clear not everyone will survive. These session will help asset managers succeed in this new reality:
- Keynote insights and feedback from leading CEOs such as Euan Munro, Aviva or Jamie Hammond, AB; Peter Preisler, T Rowe Price on how to respond to MiFID II
- How institutional style mandates are changing global retail distribution. Hear from Casey Quirk on how to create a sustainable global strategy followed by an unparalleled panel of distributors such as St James’ Place, Axa Architas or Nordea Life & Pensions
- Who your future competitors will be as this mandate trend plays out (not Google or Amazon by the way) and will you survive? Join a workshop and find out how you can respond – with whom.
- With more than 250 fund buyers attending (see why here), hear leading selectors such as Tom Caddick, Santander or Eva Polly, Raiffeisen provide local insights from Germany, Italy, France, UK, Spain, Nordics and Switzerland.
Big Story #4:
Responding to and embracing the digitalisation of the investment process
Related to Big Story #3 is the lack of trust and poor performance that has dogged the asset management industry for decades. We think 2017 is the year that asset management finally starts to turn this around. Embracing digital across the value chain is the key.
Our Future Finance sessions show asset managers, CEOs and their business heads (plus wealth managers) how to apply new technology to enable new business models. We are particularly concerned with practical strategy for the front and back office that plug the gap between what the customer is promised and what they get. Here’s how.
- Online customer behaviour with Professor Shlomo Benartzi of UCLA Anderson School of Management. How to get people saving, making the right decisions and staying loyal to your business? Hear leaders on how to use big data to manage customer satisfaction is crucial.
- Case studies on how blockchain technology can be used throughout the value chain to cut costs and improve transparency
- As robo-advisory expands its grip, join workshops on how asset managers should re-align their products and processes to meet their needs.
- ...and responding to the rise of digital fund selection: how can asset managers redeploy their technology assets to communicate and engage better with their intermediaries? Hear and demo the latest from Oren Kaplan, SharingAlpha or Roland Meerdter’s new “Door”.
2017 is going to see the biggest and most influential FundForum yet. But don't take my word for it - explore the full programme here, and we look forward to seeing you in Berlin in June.
Feel like a trip down memory lane? Watch the highlights from FundForum 2016 below.