Credit due to Thomas for Suisse success

Earlier this year, Credit Suisse burst onto the retail financial services stage with great performance figures but no customers to appreciate them. Six months down the track, the dollars are rolling in.

Earlier this year, Credit Suisse burst onto the retail financial services stage with great performance figures but no customers to appreciate them. Six months down the track, the dollars are rolling in.

In today’s world of funds management, today’s rooster is often tomorrow’s feather duster. Today’s stellar performer is often tomorrow’s bottom feeders while fund managers are being swallowed up by cashed up global financial services groups looking for a platform into the lucrative Australian market.

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Credit Suisse is certainly no bottom feeder. And as one of world’s biggest financial services groups, it is unlikely to be swallowed by a bigger fish.

Credit Suisse Asset Management had been a mainstay of the wholesale financial services industry when it decided to take on the retail market. In less than 10 years, the group’s wholesale operation has amassed more than $10 billion in funds under management. It topped the year to June inflow figures with more than $1.9 billion worth of mandates and institutional business coming through the door.

About 18 months ago, it made its first moves into the retail market by recruiting 4respected industry figure Brian Thomas from NRMA Financial Services. Over the next year, Thomas put a strategy together to drive the group into the crowded retail market.

Just prior to launching in March, Thomas snared high profile business development manager Clayton Copplestone from Tyndall. The scene was set for the launch to more than 1200 advisers around the country in the space of a one week in March.

Since Thomas and Co. made the splash in March, the vast majority of master trusts and most financial planning groups have added Credit Suisse to their recommended lists. Coming from a base of zero, the group has had retail sales of more than $280 million, placing them at number 11 for retail inflows. Not bad for a six month old infant.

Most of the money ($220 million) has come in via master trusts while a further $60 million has come through traditional retail funds.

“This is almost double what we expected by this time,” Thomas says.

Thomas has built a team of nine which he believes is “the best in the business”.

“Having the luxury of handpicking the team from scratch means that you can build the best possible team dynamics,” he says.

One of the latest recruits is Justin Brooks who has taken on the business development management role in Victoria. Brooks has been involved in the investment side of funds management for the likes of National Mutual and Macquarie which Thomas says has “proven invaluable to planners”.

With the team in place and relationships with key adviser groups established, Credit Suisse has set about having their investment process rated by research houses. ASSIRT has rated the groups 39 products investment grade while van Eyke Research has rated its Australian equities, international equities and fixed interest funds with an A. Morningstar was on the verge of publishing its rating for the group as Money Management went to press.

Thomas says Credit Suisse is seeking to be a core manager in the development of investment products. So far, it has launched unit trust, super and allocated pension products to complement the wholesale group’s core approach. Looking ahead, Thomas says the group is investigating mezzanine priced products as well as wrap and master trust services.

Thomas says the group has looked to develop operations around what he calls the three revolutions affecting the retail markets of developed countries around the world. “The first is the personal savings revolution. This is driven by the aging population and the realisation by governments that provision of unfunded generous aged pension benefits cannot be sustained. At the same time the baby boomers, most of whom are in their peak earnings periods, are investing more and more for their retirement,” he says.

“The second is the information revolution. This is where information on personal investments is freely available and the cost of transactions has reduced to negligible amounts.

“Finally there is the retailisation revolution where individuals feel more responsible for their own retirement security. At the same time they have to deal with an exponentially increasing range of personal financial options.”




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