Ignis staff departures create uncertainty
Advisers and multi-managers last week warned that the future for Ignis Asset Management's retail offering looked uncertain, following the rash of three high-profile departures since April.
Last week, marketing director Jonathan Polin, who was viewed as the driving force behind the group's joint venture strategy of launching partnerships with fund management teams, quit the firm.
This came after marketing director Rob Page resigned in early April to join Ardevora Asset Management, which launched its first funds in February. He was followed in mid-May by head of discretionary sales Jon Garland, who also quit to join Ardevora.
Andrew Merricks, head of investments at Skerritt Consultants, said: "If you look at Hexam, and now with Jonathan Polin leaving, and several other departures, it looks like Ignis is beginning to crumble a bit."
Hexam was a joint venture between Ignis and high-profile emerging market fund manager Bryan Collings, but he decided to end the partnership and launch a solo firm last July.
A year earlier, Ignis ended another joint venture with multi-manager firm Maia Capital Partners.
Ross Henderson, senior investment manager at OPM Fund Management, said he had been "wary" of Ignis since the Hexam and Maia ventures collapsed.
"As with anything, when you see wholesale changes in personnel you wonder if something is up or if big changes are going on," he said.
Investors were also concerned last week that Ignis could see further turmoil if its remaining joint ventures - Argonaut Capital Partners and Cartesian Capital Group - also decided to go solo.
Mr Merricks said he would not be "surprised" to see the ventures end.
"However, I do think it would be a shame if that was to happen as I like the set up and have some money in the boutiques, though not directly in Ignis," he said.
Hargreaves Lansdown investment manager Ben Yearsley also said he would not be surprised to see the firms breaking away from Ignis.
He said: "The joint ventures will be along the lines of the boutiques giving part of their revenue to Ignis in return for sales and marketing support, but the top sales and marketing guys have left Ignis so what are the boutiques getting now?"
"Jonathan Polin was the architect of the joint venture model at Ignis and he has now left, so what happens next?"
However, Gary Potter, head of Multi-Manager at Thames River Capital, who has a position in the £452.6m Ignis Argonaut European Income fund, said he has no plans to exit the fund in light of the departures because his focus is on fund managers, not sales staff.
An Ignis spokeswoman said: "While we have moved away from the joint venture strategy, the group is still focused and committed to the two remaining ventures.
"The recent departures do not affect how money will be run in the funds."