Funds manager opinion is divided on the growth potential and value of separately managed accounts (SMAs), research from Aviva has revealed as the firm launches the superannuation industry’s first fully integrated SMA.

The survey of 50 funds managers, in which the 44 respondents represent 70 per cent – or about $600 billion – of the $800 billion funds under management in the Australian market, indicated half the managers not currently offering SMAs were unlikely to consider introducing them.

Manager views were also polarised on the growth potential of SMAs. Only one third of managers rated the opportunity SMAs provide to increase their share of funds under management versus managed funds as ‘good’, with almost half rating the opportunity ‘average’.

“By and large, fund managers are still waiting to see whether to dip their toes in the water,” said Sue Voglis, research and public relations manager at Aviva.

However she described SMAs as a “quantum leap from traditional managed funds”, with Aviva’s research also indicating that SMAs will account for around 10 per cent of the Australian equities investment market by 2015.

Last week Aviva announced the five investment managers selected to manage eight models within the SMA, which will be launched on the Navigator platform in September.

The managers include soon-to-be-rebranded Goldman Sachs JBWere, which sold an 80.1 per cent stake in the business to NAB last week for $99 million plus performance-related consideration payable depending on future revenues.

Perennial Investment Partners picked up two models, as did Aviva’s global asset management arm, Aviva Investors.

Stuart Fechner, distribution development manager, investment products at Aviva, said to date, SMAs have been playing in a “somewhat constrained” environment.

“We believe the potential for SMAs in

Australia is huge,” he said. “The road block to date is that SMAs have not been available as an integrated option into platforms, nor have they been available for superannuation.”

Aviva is introducing the SMA across its Navigator Personal Retirement Plan, as well as for ordinary investment money.

Tim Cobb, general manager of marketing at Aviva, said the market had been waiting for a super fund to offer an SMA, rather than the other way around.

“Aviva is a platform and super fund but not a fund manager,” he said. “They are two different skill sets. In order to bring an SMA within a super fund you must have both the platform and the super fund, [and] so far we’ve had SMAs in one space and funds in another. We are trying to bring the two together.”

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