Ards Ventures is a business that aims to take “significant stakes that allow us to influence the direction” of boutique firms. It is backed by individuals as well as a group of private equity firms.
Mr Laird told FTAdviser he is presently in negotiations with “half a dozen” fund houses about taking a stake in them.
Mr Laird was head of passive investments at Hargreaves Lansdown until 2016, when he joined Lyxor as head of ETF strategy for northern Europe.
He resigned from that role in 2019 to launch his new venture.
Mr Laird said: “My time in the industry, particularly at Hargreaves Lansdown, taught me that there are lots of boutique asset management firms out there that have good products but need a bit of help to grow and we want to partner with them.
"We are not the traditional consolidator who comes in and strips everything back and fires people.
"Fund selectors need to see fund houses that have good performance, but also good operational processes, and the latter is what we can help with."
He added: "There are a lot of good boutique firms out there that don’t have the constraints of the large corporate machine. We want to support the smaller firms that have a strong entrepreneurial spirit and by partnering with us, we can give them the security that fund selectors need.”
He declined to set a target for the number of firms Ards Ventures will eventually acquire, but said other consolidators in the same market have in the past taken stakes in about twenty businesses.
He said: "Boutique asset managers are the buried treasure of the investment landscape - nimble innovative businesses with excellent potential for growth. But while consolidation is working in wealth and advice, asset managers have been overlooked.
"Our remit is broad but with a preference for established active fund houses. The market is changing: these firms contend with stiff competition from large rivals, the growth of passive and the post-COVID regime.
"We can help businesses thrive amongst this disruption. We have already spoken to a number of founders and we are looking for more.
"These owners need help adapting and growing, they want a partner who will preserve their culture and they need a fair deal. That’s why we are here – to give them options.”