Policy Papers

M&A in Asset Management: Is it strangling boutiques?

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, many asset managers saw M&A (mergers & acquisitions) with their competitors as a means to survival, principally a necessary evil by which to preserve their businesses amid the tumbling markets and as a counterweight to offset the sheer volume of client redemptions. Since then, M&A has only accelerated at major asset managers, as firms look to create economies of scale facilitating investor diversification and wider product distribution footprints. These larger enterprises can also better absorb the increasing operational and regulatory costs that come with running an asset management business in 2019. However, this rush towards consolidation carries risks.

In this paper, NCI looks at some of the implications which M&A is having on the boutique asset manager community. It also questions whether decisive action needs to be taken at a governmental or regulatory level to further scrutinise this M&A activity, especially if there is evidence that these transactions are drowning out competition and undermining investor choice. As part of this analysis into M&A trends within the industry, NCI spoke to a number of its diverse boutique asset manager members about the impact consolidation was having.