Everything that happened in the worlds of superannuation, funds management and investment administration last month… The Australian exchange traded fund (ETF) market is expected to grow to more than $6 billion in assets under management during 2011, according to analysis from Russell Investments. Greater investor understanding and the death of trailing commissions, which ETF providers have never paid, are credited for the expected surge. There was almost $4bn in ETFs at December 2010. Access Capital Advisers will bow out of Westscheme by the end of 2011, following that fund’s roll-in into AustralianSuper.

However, its foundation client, MTAA Super, signed its first-ever fixed-term contract with the asset consultant. Under the agreement, Access Capital will advise the $6 billion industry fund on asset allocation, currency hedging, manager configuration for listed asset classes, designing and monitoring liquidity and risk controls across alternative assets and the acquisition and management of a broad range of alternatives. The contract is for five years. HSBC Securities Services’ unit registry division completed global implementation of an image and workflow system, called AWD. The custodian claimed the system will spur efficiency gains in high-volume functions such as shareholder subscriptions, redemptions and account opening.

AMP Capital Investors bolstered its multiasset group with the appointment of Debbie Alliston, the BT and Apostle Asset Management veteran, as head of portfolio management. A former product manager with Goldman Sachs Asset Management in New York, Silvana Lau, also joined in a senior client liaision role. BNP Paribas Securities Services (BNP PSS) finally weaned itself off the proprietary legacy systems it inherited from foundation client, AMP Capital Investors. It announced that all Australasian clients had been moved to a single operating platform built on third-party software: DST Global Solutions’ HiPortfolio as the core investment accounting platform, Milestone Group’s pControl to cut unit prices from the data sent by HiPortfolio; TrustArchitect as the unit registry platform; Smartstream’s TLM for reconciliation and Checkfree for trade capture and ‘enrichment’ with details that allow for settlement.

BNP PSS head of IT, Mark Harrison, said the use of off-the-shelf software would allow the custodian’s systems to be updated for regulatory change much faster than before. He admitted “vendor management” would become more important in getting prompt attention to any concerns, but was able to point to his long relationships with many of the vendors in question. While at AMP, for instance, he negotiated Australia’s first third-party agreement with DST for HiPortfolio more than 10 years ago. Funds with group insurance through IUS are likely to re-tender following the sale of its underwriter to QBE and the defection of key executives to Zurich, which has internalised its distribution of group life in Australia for the first time.

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