Policy Papers

Boutique Asset Management: An SME Cluster

As CEO of a boutique asset manager, I understand well the challenges that come from being a smaller business. However, these are not without counterbalancing benefits. NCI has previously talked about the unique culture that small and medium-sized asset managers have and how this leads to superior outcomes for clients; this current paper extends that work to benefits offered to the wider economy. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) provide a disproportionately large contribution to innovation in the economy, particularly broad-based innovation that drives deep-seated positive change. Financial services SMEs, like NCI’s members, innovate markedly and collaborate together in open innovation as a cluster, much like that commonly associated with Cambridge or other hubs of innovation.

NCI’s view is that this SME cluster of small and medium-sized asset managers should be recognized and nurtured, as should the SME sector generally. However, support from government in one area, such as IMS II, does not offset the resource and financing constraints that limit SME innovation. By way of example, financial services and asset management SMEs, like certain other sectors, are unable to avail themselves of innovation funding or tax advantages that accrue to early-stage backers in other industry segments. NCI argues that this should change and that the unique and vibrant voice of NCI’s members, acting as an SME cluster of innovation, should be recognized with representation on the Asset Management Taskforce and other bodies.

I am pleased to introduce this paper on SME clusters of boutique asset managers, proud to be partner and CEO of one of them, and honoured to be able to represent NCI’s members as chairman.

Jamie Carter

Chairman, New City Initiative Chief Executive, Oldfield Partners