Nicholas Allen, founder of Allen, Allen and Partners, has been working on an informal level with Eaton Vance in Australia but will now step away from his own firm to take on the role of country head.
“Three or four years ago when Eaton Vance came to the market, my role was to navigate this market for them and help them build an Australian-domiciled client base,” Allen told I&T News in an interview this week.
“Now we have eight or nine clients in this market and manage something north of $4 billion, so that gives us the critical mass so its time to set up an Australian representative office.”
Eatin’ and advancin’
Founded in 1924 in the US, Eaton Vance is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and has around US$200 billion in assets under management.
The company this year acquired a 49 per cent stake in Montreal-based fund manager Hexavest and 100-per-cent owns Seattle-based after-tax specialist Parametic, both of which have clients in Australia and which will work through Allen as country head.
“We are at a point where we see Australia as a key market and we think we have capabilities which will resonate with institutional investors here,” Niall Quinn, Eaton Vance’s international managing director, told I&T News in Sydney last week.
Quinn was in Australia with two managers from Hexavest to meet with clients both in Australia and New Zealand. Local clients include Catholic Super, HESTA and AMP.
Hexavest’s president and chief investment officer, Vital Proulx, told I&T News the firm’s “top-down” macro approach to global investing had performed particularly well in the difficult markets of the last few years.
“We focus on sectors and valuations, and also the sentiment of investors,” said Proulx. “We are also contrarians, so we can go against the crowd so we can avoid market bubbles.”
“It means that while we do perform well in the good markets, we do exceptionally well in down markets, and that is when we shine.”
Allen said the deal for Eaton Vance to take 49 per cent of Hexavest gave the firm the additional capacity to take on new clients and service them throughout the world.
“Hexavest currently has around US$14 billion under management,” said Allen, “but by joining with Eaton Vance, they have the reporting and compliance capability now to manage up to US$40 or US$50 billion, so we will be looking to expand their business here.”