F&C overhauls sales team to shift focus from MM funds

F&C Asset Management’s newly-appointed head of consumer Rob Thorpe has overhauled the company’s sales strategy in a bid to diversify distribution away from its flagship multi-manager range.

As well as promoting the group’s European equities and property funds with new campaigns, Mr Thorpe also hopes to attract more interest in F&C’s range of investment trusts, something which had previously been handled separately.

Former Cazenove head of retail Mr Thorpe, who joined the group in December after a brief spell at Sarasin & Partners, has formed a separate team to lead F&C’s distribution with national adviser groups, networks, life companies and platforms. This will be led by current head of distribution partners Mark Parry assisted by Stephen McCall.

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Mr Thorpe has also appointed Frank O’Donnell, Paul Moulton and Jason Anderson as regional sales directors focusing on the north, the Midlands and the south respectively. Each also has a sales manager and telephone sales support reporting to them.

These teams will split their time between promoting F&C’s multi-manager products, run by Rob Burdett and Gary Potter, and promoting other products.

“Our sales distribution structure has not been positioned to allow us to claim the market share the strength of these propositions suggests we deserve,” Mr Thorpe said.

“Buyers of funds need to be comfortable they can have a relationship with us. We need to be in a position where we can properly service these clients.

“The creation of a team focused on big distribution partners then frees up the rest of the sales team. The regional sales teams will allow us to run campaigns [promoting particular asset classes] which we haven’t done before.

“We’re promoting our capabilities rather than specific funds, which allows us to include investment trusts.”

To begin with F&C will be aiming to bring more money into the group’s top-perfoming European equity products, including Sam Cosh’s €336m F&C European Small Cap fund and Mark Nichols’ £279m F&C European Growth & Income fund.

Two more sales staff are set to join in the coming weeks, with a vacancy also being filled for a London-based sales support role. The changes to the sales team will take effect from April 1.

The overhaul comes after an extensive period of change for F&C. The acquisition of Thames River in 2010 was followed by activist Sherborne Investors’ intervention at board level, installing Edward Bramson as chairman and instigating a raft of changes across the business.

Most recently a number of senior names have left F&C, including head of UK retail John Yule, director of global strategy Ted Scott and Thames River chief executive Toby Hampden-Acton, while Foreign & Colonial investment trust manager Jeremy Tigue is set to retire later this year.

F&C Asset Management is also set to be bought by Canadian financial services company BMO.

Elsewhere, F&C today annnounced the loss of £14.5bn worth of investment management mandates from Resolution Ltd. Equity and multi-asset mandates totaling £12.2bn will be transfered to Schroders, while a further £2.3bn in fixed income mandates will be moved to Friends Life Investments.