Australia’s largest investment consultant JANA has completed the buyout of a minority 45 per cent stake in a move the firm hopes will boost its ability to retain staff and attract new talent as it expands into new areas of the asset owner market.
“We recognise that if we want to be able to attract the best, we need to be able to offer them a great value proposition and their chance of acquiring equity is something that we think will allow us to do that going forward,” JANA chief executive Georgina Dudley tells Investment Magazine.
Being wholly-owned will allow JANA to expand the business into new areas such as not-for-profits, insurance, wealth partnership and charities says Dudley. “The [new structure] means flexibility in overall business strategy, strategic investments within the business, the potential for strategic acquisitions, and just ensuring those types of decisions are within our control.”
JANA had initially acquired a 55 per cent stake of the business from NAB-owned MLC Wealth in 2017. The acquisition of the remaining 45 per cent interest was part of the initial sale agreement. MLC was subsequently sold to IOOF, which has since been rebranded Insignia Financial. The firm currently has more than 140 staff and over $1.3 trillion in investments under advice.
“This [acquisition] is really the completion of that journey to go to a full management owned model and that allows us the ability to put forward the model that we want in terms of having the alignment and the accountability with the individuals,” she says.
Consultant role evolving
The role of an investment consultant is evolving with the push within larger super funds to internalise investment teams.
“As super funds get larger and particularly as many will develop their own internal investment teams, we’re seeing that we play a different role, but we’re still seeing the opportunity for growth that might come through areas of specialist work,” Dudley says.
She sees an increased role for consultants to provide advice to trustee boards on governance and assurance matters to help them discharge their fiduciary responsibilities.
“That [investment] model is definitely changing, but the need for deep investment advice is still there, the investment expertise and the ability to provide insights into best practice. What we offer is an ability to go outside of their world and be able to compare that,” she says.
The changing nature of how super funds invest members’ contributions has also led to more customisation of consultancy mandates. “The investment models are becoming more individual for each fund and it’s not a homogenous sector in terms of these large super funds. So that is really reflected in terms of the models and services that we offer that are very tailored for each individual fund,” she says.