Sandy Urie’s four-month relocati on to the Asi a-Paci fic region marks the next phase of development for Cambridge Associates, reports SIMON MUMME.

For Cambridge Associates to become a “truly global firm, not just in footprint, but in mindset”, its personnel must have on-the-ground experience in major markets worldwide to gain the requisite insights, says Sandy Urie, CEO at the asset consultant. “This should start at the top.” The consultant, headquartered in the US, is no newcomer to the global investment landscape. Out of its 900 clients, 200 are based outside its home market. But to be truly global means more than servicing business interests abroad: it means cultivating an awareness of the investment challenges and opportunities that exist worldwide, and developing insights into how global investors can approach them. “If we want to bring the best ideas, this idea of a global mindset is very important,” Urie says.

“How can our clients take advantage of the opportunities that exist here, and start to dispel some of their home-country biases?” Urie asks. The answer should begin to emerge from her experiences as “something of a roving CEO” in Asia, as she witnesses first-hand the growth and dynamics of the region’s investment markets and meets key institutional figures. And it will involve creating deeper linkages between Cambridge’s offices across the world. Speaking to Investment Magazine one month into her time in Asia, Urie says each of Cambridge’s offices – which are stationed throughout the US and in London, Singapore, Sydney and, from September, Beijing – is interconnected but focused mainly on its immediate market. Trying to “break down this fragmentation”, build more awareness of the work undertaken by each office and contributing to a collective, global outlook is another goal to be undertaken during the temporary relocation.

Cambridge establishes new offices in advance of, but also in response to, client demands. Naturally, each outpost is assigned research, client service and prospecting objectives. But it’s the research ambitions that most often compel the consultant to set up in a new market, Urie says. The consultant’s knowledge and understanding of managers in Asia accelerated when it first established a physical presence in the region. Eugene Snyman, who opened the firm’s Singapore office in 2001 before relocating to Sydney in 2007 to do likewise, says the consultant keeps track of managers in the region as they emerge and progress. “Groups that started up in 2002 with a maiden fund, with family and friends as investors – we’ve stayed in contact with them,” Snyman says. It’s common for Cambridge staff to relocate among the firm’s offices. In May, hedge fund specialist Paul Liu will arrive in Australia from Cambridge’s office in Menlo Park, California.

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