UK – The University of Bristol pension fund has chosen SEI Investments to run the entire fund as it switches to a manager of managers strategy.

The trustees of the 100 million-pound (142 million-euro) scheme decided to changed from a balanced approach to a manager of manager approach last year, but had been considering the move since 2001.

The fund was formerly managed by Barclays Global Investors and Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, with the former running 45% of the scheme on a passive basis, and MLIM running the remainder on an active basis.

SEI says it fought off competition from Northern Trust and Frank Russell to win the mandate – said to be the first university pension fund mandate to be awarded to a manager of managers in the UK.

An increasing number of UK pension funds are looking to allocate part of their assets to a manager of managers mandate. Says Kate Finch, institutional sales director at SEI: “It is clear that manager of managers is increasing in popularity across all sectors as a better alternative to the traditional approach.” The strategy allows smaller funds, in particular, access to specialist fund managers, which they would not ordinarily be able to afford, or to whom they would not normally have access.

When Bristol tendered the mandate last October, assistant finance director, William Lieuw said that, although the approach was more expensive, the benefits of manager of managers, through the performance, outweighed the costs.

SEI Investments managers over 85 billion dollars in assets worldwide.