Investment Product and Service Launches for the Week

Delaware Investments announces intent to acquire Bennett Lawrence Management; Partners Group introduces private markets funds for the defined contribution market; Allianz Global Investors launches dynamic target-date collective investment trust series; and more.

Bennet Lawrence Management to Be Acquired

Bennett Lawrence Management LLC, known for small- and mid-cap U.S. growth investment products, will join the Delaware Investments stable of boutique equity investment teams.

Alex Ely will lead the firm’s seventh boutique equity investment team following anticipated closing of the deal in the first quarter of 2016, according to Delaware Investments. Bennett Lawrence Management currently manages more than $330 million.

Bennett Lawrence is based in New York and was founded in 1995 by Van Schreiber and Jane Fisher to serve both institutional and individual investors. Schreiber will join Delaware Investments as a senior portfolio manager, serving the firm’s all-cap growth clients, while Fisher will serve as the team’s investment specialist. Ely will lead the investment team as chief investment officer.

Other members of the team include Senior Equity Analysts Dina Pliotis and Nate Mahrer, and Equity Analysts Amy Zhang and Traver Davis. Ely will serve as co-portfolio manager on the all-cap growth strategy and continue to manage the small- and mid-cap growth strategies.

Upon the close of this acquisition, Delaware Investments will offer separate accounts and asset management through sub-advisory relationships in the small and mid-cap growth space.

NEXT: New Private Equity Funds from Partners Group

Partners Group Adds to Private Market Offerings

Partners Group, the global private markets investment manager, has developed new private markets offerings for the world's three largest defined contribution (DC) markets—the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

Steffen Meister, president of Partners Group, suggests the move is a “milestone in the development of suitable private equity and private markets offerings for the DC market.”

The offerings are already available to U.S. clients, according to the firm, while the Australian fund “is in ramp-up phase and is expected to open for client commitments in early 2016. The U.K. fund is in the final stages of regulatory review and is expected to launch in Q1 2016,” the firm says.

André Frei, partner and co-CEO of Partners Group, explains that DC plans have historically been unable to invest in private equity and private markets due to the illiquid structure of traditional private equity vehicles. “These funds will change the status quo,” he predicts.

Partners Group's three offerings provide access to private markets investments, while at the same time providing daily liquidity and pricing and fulfilling the highly standardized purchase and redemption procedures that are requirements of the DC system. They are designed to be adopted by professionally-managed or advised DC plans and incorporated in structures such as target-date funds in the U.S., default funds of work-place pension plans in the U.K., and retail platforms in Australia.

Frei adds: "As the proportion of pension assets invested in DC versus DB schemes has risen, so have the demands from consultants and plan managers for access to a more sophisticated set of investment options, including private markets. Given this demand-led momentum, we anticipate that, over the next decade, private markets will become as important a performance driver for DC schemes as they are today for many DB portfolios."

NEXT: TDF CITs from Allianz Global Investors 

New Line of Dynamic CITs from Allianz Global Investors

Allianz Global Investors U.S. LLC announced the launch of AllianzGI Dynamic Target-Date Collective Investment Trust (CIT) series maintained by Reliance Trust Co. The new CIT series will utilize the asset allocation and risk mitigation strategy Allianz Global Investors developed in Europe in 2005.

Calling the CITs “innovative” and “unique,” Allianz says they address the disconnect, or “risk gap,” behavioral finance studies have shown often exists between a plan sponsor’s optimal retirement target-date glide path and the risk tolerance levels of plan participants. The goal of the funds, therefore, is to provide downside protection while maintaining long-term return potential.

According to Allianz, the Dynamic Target-Date CITs, similar to a target-date fund, offer a strategic glide path that reallocates portfolios over time as the retirement target date approaches. The funds also implement risk mitigation features through which the managers can deviate from the glide path to reflect market conditions. This means the portfolio can overweight return-generating asset classes during sustained bull markets while also employing greater risk mitigation into defensive asset classes during market downturns throughout the life of the glide path. The CIT series also utilizes a focus on smart-beta and index-based strategies to keep costs competitive.

The CITs’ multi-asset management strategy is new in the U.S. and, Glenn Dial, head of U.S. retirement strategy for AllianzGI, says it could “revolutionize the target-date landscape.” It has demonstrated consistent success, the company says, in outperforming respective benchmarks in both favorable and adverse market environments, particularly showing significant protection during the 2008/2009 global financial crisis.

Reliance Trust Co., trustee, established the CIT series and handles its ongoing operation. Allianz Global Investors U.S. LLC serves as the investment adviser to Reliance Trust; State Street Bank and Trust Co. is custodian and accountant for the new AllianzGI Dynamic Target-Date CITs. Participation in the CITs is limited to tax-qualified pension and profit-sharing plans and related trusts, as well as governmental plans, as described in the company’s declaration of trust.

NEXT: New e-Book from Guidance Point

New e-Book from Guidance Point

Guidance Point Retirement Services recently published an e-book for retirement plan officials based on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) amendments to money market mutual fund rules that are intended to increase transparency and give investors additional protection. 

The e-book discusses recent amendments to money market mutual fund rules and the likely impacts on retirement plans and plan sponsors. Generally, the firm says, plan sponsors spend very little time “analyzing the money market or cash type of investment option as highlighted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the structural benefits and deficiencies of differing types.”

“The $2.73 trillion money market fund market has recently undergone reforms that may impact their investment strategy and use within the defined contribution setting,” the firm warns. “Our e-Book works through a process for plan sponsors to understand recent changes to money market mutual funds, and evaluation of alternatives such as Bank Savings Accounts and Stable Value alternatives.”

More information is here.

NEXT: Slocum Adopts RiskFirst’s PFaroe

Investment advisory firm Slocum has adopted RiskFirst’s real-time analytics and reporting platform, PFaroe.

The investment advisory firm serves more than 125 institutional clients with total invested client assets of approximately $120 billion and will use PFaroe “to help inform strategic asset allocation decisions and implement dynamic de-risking strategies.”

Nicole Delahanty, principal at Slocum, says the firm always strives to take a “big picture or qualitative view of the market when setting long-term asset allocation strategy for our retirement plan clients. But a dynamic pension landscape also calls for the ability to view pension risk on a frequent basis—we need to stress-test our views and ensure that they meet the needs of our clients from a funded status, cash and expense perspective.”

Matthew Seymour, managing director at RiskFirst, suggest it’s “clear that de-risking is swiftly moving up the agenda for U.S. pension plans, large and small, and we are delighted that the industry is turning to real-time analytics to improve efficiency and effectiveness of such solutions. Slocum is a firm that takes a highly customized approach to developing asset allocation and risk management for clients, which marries perfectly with PFaroe’s holistic and flexible approach.”