Platinum Amex? More like Platinum cost control BT/Westpac has welcomed back a familiar face in Jason Collins, the new head of distribution for wholly-owned boutique incubator Ascalon Capital Managers. Very familiar – the man doesn’t look a day older than he did in 1999, when he was batting away questions from Unbalanced’s lame cub reporter as part of BT’s corporate comms team. Must be the five years of air conditioning and ex-pat splendour in Singapore, where Collins had been posted with Deutsche Bank. But it’s not 1999 any more – cost control is now a mantra for many managers, especially the boutiques in which Ascalon owns minority stakes. CEO Andrew Landman says all of Ascalon’s portfolio managers and analysts agree to base pay rates “significantly lower” than those received by their equivalents in the big institutions, and don’t splurge on “leather chairs for the reception area…we want our guys putting their own paper in the printer.” The poster child here is Platinum Asset Management founder Kerr Neilson, whose firm’s costto- income ratio famously resides around the 15 per cent mark. This remarkably lean figure is driven from the top by Neilson himself, who for instance doesn’t have an executive assistant, books all of his own flights and has spoken of the “rubbish” wine served at Platinum staff drinks.

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