Latest figures show that German fund of funds now account for €63 billion of assets, and their importance to cross-border fund managers was evident at the Sauren Golden Awards on Thursday night. The awards were held in Frankfurt, but on the basis of the nationalities of the winners they could have been anywhere.
Cologne-based multimanager Eckhard Sauren (pictured) was a pioneer in Germany of focusing on individual fund manager talent and is now the seventh largest fund of funds manager in Germany. His Golden Awards, based on the qualitative analysis of fund managers from all over Europe, reflected the international nature of Germany's fund industry today.
Of the ten award winners, only one was German - veteran Frank Lingohr who took the prize for global equities.
Britons dominated the awards; with Jupiter's Alex Darwall winning in the European equity category, First State's Angus Tulloch in emerging markets, GAM's Adrian Owens in absolute returns and JOHCM's John Wood in UK equities. Meanwhile, Martin Taylor of Nevsky Capital bagged himself the fund personality of the year award and Charlemagne Capital's Andrew Wiles took the hedge fund award.
But American managers were also represented, with Michael Hasenstab winning in the bond global sector and Joe Foster winning in the gold sector, while Sweden's Filip Weintraub took the comeback of the year award.
The multi-national award winners show how the funds landscape in Germany has changed in recent years, Sauren said.
'If we look back ten years, only a few UK boutiques were present in Germany: such as Griffin and Ennismore. The German market has been becoming more and more international, and it has become easier to sell UK funds in Germany. Our research process has always been international, but nowadays we are in London 20 times a year, compared to just five or six times a year 10 years ago.'
Aside from the multinational award winners, perhaps the most striking thing about the ceremony in Frankfurt was the mix of high-profile fund managers and selectors in the audience. As well as normally-reclusive managers such as Martin Taylor, it also included a number leading fund managers who did not win any awards but still thought it worth attending. These included Nicolas Walewski, former Fidelity star Graham Clapp, Metzler's Lorenzo Carcano, Delta Lloyd's Angus Steel, Stefan Böttcher from Charlemagne Capital and Stephan Hornung from Squad Capital.
Clearly these managers were there in part to network with fund selectors, but they were also there to meet each other. Indeed, it was interesting to see Nicolas Walewski and Filip Weintraub, for example, meeting for the first time and sharing views on companies and valuations.
But these managers' attendance also shows the influence which organisations offering third party funds now have. After all, Sauren, despite its innovation and strong reputation, is only Germany's seventh biggest multimanager with assets of just over €2 billion. But as investors such as those in Germany put their focus ever more on funds beyond their own borders, such organisations wield ever more power.