GERMANY - Feri Institutional Advisors (FIA), the German investment consultant, has lost two hedge fund specialists. One of them, Werner Goricki, was a managing director with responsibility for hedge fund advising.

Sources close to the events told IPE that Goricki, the other unnamed hedge fund specialist, as well as several back-office staff, would leave FIA by the end of March.

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, added that Goricki's departure was partly motivated by FIA's recent decision to combine his business with private equity advising to create a new alternatives advising department.

The MD responsible for private equity advising was Bernd Kreuter and he, instead of Goricki, was named head of the new alternatives department. Kreuter is one of FIA's six remaining MDs, all of whom report to Arnd Thorn, chief executive of Bad Homburg-based FERI.

Contacted by IPE, FIA declined to comment. Goricki himself was not immediately available to speak to IPE.
With the loss of Goricki and the other specialist, the number of consultants at FIA has declined from 25 to 23.

Indeed, since 2003, FIA has been hit by an exodus of senior consultants, several of whom have joined rival consultants like Germany's Faros and Watson Wyatt.

The most prominent departure, though, was that of Harmut Leser, who left last September ultimately to join Aberdeen Asset Management as its new German head. During his ten-year tenure, Leser, an ex MD, was instrumental in establishing FIA as the market leader in terms of institutional assets advised on.

FIA has €305bn in institutional assets on which it advises, three quarters of which are from pension funds. In 2006, FIA said it had acquired 20 new institutional clients, bringing the total to 120.

To deal with the exodus of staff, FIA said last January that it had hired 10 new employees, adding that it would make several additional appointments during the course of 2007.

FIA said the 10 new employees were working in the areas of asset-liability consulting, fund and manager selection as well as funds of funds, covering both traditional asset classes and alternatives.