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Asset management roundup: Generali backs ‘disruptive’ startup with $4bn

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Italian financial services group Generali has backed a “disruptive” asset management startup led by former AllianceBernstein CEO Peter Kraus.

In a statement, Generali said it would provide up to $4bn (€3.4bn) of “strategic investment capital” for Aperture Investors’ first products, which operate a “unique” charging structure.

Aperture has lined up credit and equity funds priced initially in line with exchange-traded funds. Fees for both the company and the individual asset managers would only rise if managers beat their benchmarks, the company said.

The firm has also implemented a ”deferral mechanism”, which it said meant “unearned compensation” could be returned to investors.

Kraus – chairman and CEO of Aperture – argued that the asset management industry was “long overdue for disruption” with “too many active managers managing too much money”.

“Fixed fees and a lack of real capacity constraints have long incentivised managers to grow assets under management rather than pursue outperformance,” he said. 

“This structure has led to years of poor performance that has eroded client trust in active management. We intend to change this by aligning manager and client incentives around outperformance…

“It’s our belief that investors would rather pay for performance than pay regardless of whether or not they get any, and the only way to do that is to disrupt the long-held model of fixed fees based on AUM in asset management.”

Tim Ryan, CEO of Generali Asset Management, added: “Aperture Investors is another important milestone in Generali’s multi-boutique strategy launched last year.

“We believe that innovation is not only a key lever for our long-term success but also an opportunity for Generali to guide the process of change as a leader in the insurance and financial industry. Aperture Investors offers us the ability to develop a new model that addresses manager incentives while also leveraging invaluable know-how in our sector.”

AMX adds fixed income, crosses $6bn threshold

The Asset Management Exchange (AMX), an “open architecture” service provider for asset managers, has hit $6bn in assets after UK insurance group RSA added assets from two of its pension schemes.

AMX provides back office services for asset managers in order to reduce their operating costs and improve efficiency for asset owners. Since its launch last year, the service – backed by Willis Towers Watson – has been adding equity and hedge funds to its platform. 

RSA’s Sal Pension Scheme and Royal Insurance Group Pension Scheme have transferred $750m of assets run by Brandywine Global, an affiliate of Legg Mason. It is the first time AMX has added fixed income assets.

Nick Deahl, head of trustee investment at RSA, said the transaction “provides the opportunity to achieve… efficiencies as well as support innovation in the marketplace”.

He added: “We share AMX’s goal of reducing inefficiencies in the pooled fund industry, along with achieving greater cost transparency and operational simplicity.”

Oliver Jaegemann, global head of AMX, said the platform had signed up more than 40 pension fund clients since its launch, which he argued demonstrated “the appetite in our industry to embrace new, innovative measures to save on time and costs”.

Fund managers available on AMX include Lindsell Train, Lansdowne Partners, Veritas, Systematica Investments and Fulcrum Asset Management. 

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