It has been just more than a year since Hermes Fund Managers – a brand well known among institutional investors – opened its doors to fund selectors and discretionary fund managers.
In April 2012, the UK pension fund giant, which is owned by the BT Pension Scheme and has £26.5bn under management, began marketing three of its Ucits funds to the retail investment market. As far as Clive Selman, director of business development, UK wholesale, is concerned, things have got off to a good start.
“It feels like you are building a startup without having all of the issues of building a startup, such as funding operational concerns [and] corporate governance issues. You have the flexibility of being able to build a team and put your stance on how it evolves. That is a rare opportunity.”
Mr Selman joined from Man Group, where he was part of the hedge fund sales team. In fact, the conversation about his career is rather short, as Man Group is his only previous employer.
“Initially, I spent three years in Switzerland [working for Man] supporting regional sales teams around the world,” he says. “I would be calling expat brokers in Tokyo, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America... about hedge funds and why they should think about them.
“I cut my teeth talking to advisers about hedge fund products, and it was a tough sell in 1999, when it was all about long-only equity investing. The change came in 2002, 2003 when people were looking for absolute return and diversification away from long-only,” he adds.
However, in October 2010, Man Group bought GLG, and Mr Selman was moved into the GLG side of the business, alongside long-only sales people including Richard Phillips, who, following the acquisition, was given responsibility for developing and implementing the business’ retail sales strategy in the UK.
“I was the only person who survived from the Man side in the retail funds business,” he says. “I was their hedge fund specialist, and it was eye-opening, especially as everyone was buying the fund we had there – the Japan fund – at the end of 2011. It made me realise that I really wanted a diversified product suite. It is better to have more things to sell than less in this environment.”
While he admits that 12 years at one firm made him hungry for a new challenge, it took him a while to find the right offer.
“Hermes came along, and the beauty of it was that you have a large equity capability, fixed income and all the alternatives, whether that is real estate, hedge fund, infrastructure, commodities – it is very diverse. It felt like a sensible and natural step to make. I wanted to focus more on being a UK specialist as well,” Mr Selman adds.
Part of the initial drive to get the Hermes funds into the retail space was to get them listed in the IMA sectors, which, to some suprise, gained the backing of Jupiter’s investment veteran John Chatfeild-Roberts.