Boutique fund managers take poaching approach

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Australia's major fund management firms are on high alert, thanks to a spate of recent defections from their senior ranks to boutique fund managers.

Firms such as Credit Suisse, AMP, ING Investment Management, Colonial First State and UBS Global Asset Management have all experienced the loss of senior managers to boutiques in recent weeks, and experts predict there is much more to come.

Australia's massive funds investment sector, one of the largest in the world, is underpinned by the more than AU$600bn of compulsory superannuation funds invested on behalf of all workers. As that investment figure continues to rise, more and more opportunities are being created for new boutique fund managers to beef up their investment teams.

"The funds management sector is absolutely huge, and I'm seeing more experienced managers being enticed away from the big firms by smaller fund managers," says Rick Jansz, managing consultant at BSI People. "There is also a lot of interest from people keen to move out of the private equity sector, who see fund management as a long-term career opportunity."

Boutique fund managers will typically offer senior employees equity in the firm, which can be a big draw. The pay's not too bad either: Jansz says a senior fund manager can expect a very sizeable base package, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, plus bonuses.

Michael Markiewicz of Carmichael Fisher says that to retain their teams, the major players are having to offer even better remunerations packages.

"However these boutique firms are growing strongly and with the senior fund managers being offered a slice of the action by way of equity, it will be difficult to compete."

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