Posted on: March 19th, 2012
It was good to meet up with George Latham last Friday and to hear how well he and his former Henderson colleagues are settling in to their new home at WHEB Asset Management.
The team had clearly set about finding a new home with gusto. Their first blog sets out their vision and gives an insight into how they went about selecting a new home for their talents when the music stopped for them at Henderson.
This well considered move has every chance of being a success – and also being positive for the SRI market as a whole – for the following reasons;
Firstly the team has joined a group which was already on a mission to set the standard in the field of Sustainable investment. Led by Clare Brook, formerly of Aviva and prior to that NPI/Henderson, Clare has a proven track record for successful trail blazing in this market. Given her history it is unsurprising that she has much in common with the more recently ‘former Henderson’ team. Both are expert in managing Sustainability themed funds and they share a deep understanding of how related issues can impact business and therefore investments.
Secondly – both also favour the use of truly independent advisory boards where independent experts are brought in to guide and inform strategy. The importance of drawing on the expertise of ‘big thinkers’ at the ‘sharp end’ of their respective industries is often underestimated – but is thankfully clearly in the DNA of both teams. Used effectively this can give funds a real edge – and is likely to continue to do so for many years given the pace of change.
These synergies will be important in their early years, but equally important is the value of having kept much of the old Henderson team together. By bringing in four experienced SRI team members the new enlarged WHEB AM now has both the experience and the critical mass to bring big company thinking – and big company action – to an ambitious newer entrant.
Yet WHEB is not in start up mode, it has already gone through the hard work of successfully taking its first fund to market. With the added capacity they should be able to maximise the opportunities presented by this growing market without spreading themselves too thinly – and help drive growth at the same time. As such they have the potential to take on both the retail and institutional markets – particular now that some of the previous ‘top table’ SRI players have kindly – if inexplicably – effectively vacated their places.
The governance structure that already existed at WHEB AM demonstrated that they were both an ambitious and a serious proposition.
Once settled, the challenge for the new enlarged team will be to attract the critical mass of assets they require.
Playing with the big boys will come easy to WHEB AM but they will have to get their first.
The signs so far are good. Watch this space…