Frontier Advisors has been ranked as the number one consultant, based on an independent survey that sought the opinions of institutional investors.

The Peter Lee Associates investment management survey collated the responses of 161 interviews with chief investment officers, chief executives and other investment personnel from institutional investors for 2016.

Respondents were asked about their opinions of and experiences with aspects of services and capabilities of asset consulting firms, such as client capability, quality of research and advice and fees and performance.

Typically, all the consultants scored near the top end of the five-point scale, reflecting the high-performance nature of the industry, with the differences between the consultants occurring at the margins.

Sandhya Chand, managing director of Peter Lee Associates, said this was a great result for Frontier Advisors and a testament to their capability, but added in recent years other asset consultants had topped the list as well.

She also said the survey showed institutional investors assessed asset consultants on experience of lead consultants, independence of advice and domestic market experience above global resources and technology.  Fees tend not to be the key differentiating factor – trust and confidence are critical.

The 12 primary areas the survey evaluated were:

  • Domestic manager research
  • International manager research
  • Capital market research
  • Strategic investment advice
  • Dynamic asset allocation
  • Quality and assessment of risk
  • Consultant capability
  • Reasonable fees
  • Performance against agreed benchmarks
  • Quality of service
  • Portfolio performance
  • Relationship strength index (overall measure)

Frontier Advisors was ranked first in eleven of the twelve areas, including the relationship strength indicator.

The findings come at a time when some in the industry are questioning the role played by consultants as larger institutional investors build strong internal capabilities, a spokesperson for Frontier said.

However, Frontier has also been recruiting as well as re-inventing its model.

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Damian Moloney, chief executive of Frontier Advisors, said: “In recent years we have developed an approach built around four key pillars, namely knowledge sharing, customisation, industry-leading technology, and an alignment of interests through the unconflicted nature of our advice. We think that is a unique set of attributes that meets the needs of today’s, and tomorrow’s, institutional investor and it would seem the market agrees”.

Peter Lee Associate’s survey also evaluated fund managers covering investment skills, performance, client services, marketing effectiveness, brand strength, current asset mix, demand for various mandates in each asset class, manager hiring expectations and emerging trends.

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