It’s looking a bit like a structural problem for the institutional funds management industry. Graeme Mather is leaving Mercer, it was revealed last week. He is the third head of investment consulting of Australia’s major firms to depart in recent months.
Mather, who oversaw about 160 people at Mercer as head of investment and retirement consulting, will join Schroder Investment Management in mid-August as head of product and distribution. He replaces Chris Durack, who has moved to Hong Kong with the firm in a similar role.
In the past few months, Graham Miller, the former head of investment consulting at Willis Towers Watson, has joined Telstra Super as CIO and Ian Patrick, the former managing director of JANA Advisers, has joined Sunsuper as CIO. Also, there have been several other asset consultants who have left to join either super funds or fund managers. The asset consulting field is going through a difficult transitionary period because of the structural changes in the institutional industry. Mather had been with Mercer for about 18 years. Before that he was a financial planner. One of the principal reasons for joining Schroder, Mather said last week, was the firm’s culture.
“They [Schroder] have a great culture and good products,” he said. “They tend to have a similar mindset to consultants.”
Greg Cooper, the Schroder chief executive, is a former consultant who worked for the old Towers Perrin and Durack spent some time at Mercer about 20 years ago.
Mather observed that the asset consulting industry was going through a tough time because there was a declining number of funds and they were increasingly insourcing their investment capabilities.
In an internal memo last week, Schroder said: “As a director, Mather will have specific responsibility for business strategy, product and distribution. The hire replaces Chris Durack who was promoted to Country Head of Schroders Hong Kong earlier this year.
“Mr Mather’s appointment also recognises the demands of an increasingly technical market and the investment challenge of the current macro-economic environment.”
Greg Cooper, chief executive, said: “Graeme is a highly experienced and respected leader within the wealth management industry and we are excited about the contribution he will make to our business.”
Schroders currently manages about $49 billion in assets from Australia across international and Australian equities, fixed income and multi-asset strategies.
* Greg Bright is publisher of Investor Strategy News (Australia)