IMA sectors could include offshore

Steven Brown, the head of wholesale at Principal Global Investors, says a move that would see offshore funds included in the mainstream Investment Management Association (IMA) sectors is “imminent”.

Brown (pictured) says the process of bringing these funds to the British retail market will be organic as investors and IFAs are already becoming more comfortable in dealing with them.

“I approached the IMA in January and we instigated the push to create a committee with a number of other groups to take the idea forward,” he says. “We felt that it was important for investors to have all the available funds promoted to them, and therefore included in independent fund rankings such as IMA sectors.”

Principal Global Investors runs 10 Dublin-domiciled funds, which it is keen to bring to the attention of the British market. Brown himself was recruited in July last year to spearhead the firm’s push into the retail market and he says there are already large volumes of inquiries from investors.

James Davies, an investment research manager at Chartwell Investment Management, says increasing investor choice is only the start of what needs to be done to raise the profile of offshore domiciled funds.

“Anything that increases the quality of funds available is a good thing, but it’s a stepping stone really,” he says. “The sort of funds that make it to the UK-domiciled space have already been running offshore in many cases. This move will allow people to get access to these funds earlier and be able to look at interesting thematic funds which aren’t available onshore.”

Allowing greater access to these funds is designed to bring British investors in line with those in Europe, who are far less constrained by domicility. Brown says the move offers a challenge to asset management groups but is a necessary step for the industry.

“In some ways the most challenging market is probably the UK because investors in Europe are aware of all the funds available to them, which is not necessarily the case in the UK,” he says. “I think [the IMA listing] is fairly imminent to be honest.”