Fiduciary managers’ mandates have fallen for the first time as schemes are moving towards insurance transactions, according to Isio’s latest fiduciary management survey.
It has also found that fiduciary managers’ assets under management (AUM) decreased materially over 2023. This decrease in AUM for the fiduciary management market followed the Gilts crisis, it added.
Paula Champion, head of fiduciary management oversight at Isio, said the fall in assets was “expected” and it was more a “consequence of the environment of yields rising and not really a reflection of the fiduciary market itself”.
Champion said that that “more interestingly” the number of mandates had been “quite benign”. “Historically we’ve seen mandates grow over the last 15 years. This is the first time really we’ve seen falls in the number of mandates that come to the market,” she explained.
The report showed that schemes using full mandates increased by 3% but schemes using partial mandates declined by 13%.
Isio said that because partial mandates can be used by schemes for “many different reasons” it makes it “hard to determine the exact reason for the decrease” in a number of mandates, however, Champion expects it could be due to schemes moving towards insurance transactions.
She said it is a “positive outcome” as schemes’ have got to their objective but that means “one less mandate in the industry”.
Another reason for not seeing growth, according to Champion, could be schemes taking time to settle and consider their next steps after the LDI crisis.
She said: “I think there was a lot of activity and movement around portfolios during the crisis and what some trustees haven’t done is take a step back and think ‘is our governance approach right?’ So I think there could be more of that to come.”
Champion noted that there are benefits to a fiduciary management approach going forward, but “equally there are going to be more and more schemes moving towards a buyout”.
Therefore, she expects next year to see a “slight increase” in fiduciary management mandates, or it could “level out” as some schemes leaving the market “might net off the effect”.
In light of these, Champion expects the market to stay static for a few years to come.
She explained: “From an industry perspective fiduciary managers make investment decisions on pools of assets, where this is delegated to them. Some of these assets are [defined benefit] DB pension scheme assets, but there are other assets that can benefit from a fiduciary approach.”
With the number of DB schemes looking for fiduciary management decreasing, Champion said fiduciary managers will be looking for other pools of assets to diversify their business.
“For example, [defined contribution] DC assets, charities or any long-term pool of assets that can use the benefits of a fiduciary approach – this will inevitably put pressure on the fiduciary industry to ensure they are broadening their client base,” she pointed out.
Champion said there are benefits from delegating investment decisions for a range of different parties. “For a business with a pool of assets or income, and commitment to pay some form of liability over time, they might benefit from delegating their investment decision-making in a really similar way to a pension scheme trustee,” she said.
“Certainly the DB pension world is declining slowly so they will be going out there and looking for other sources of assets,” she concluded.