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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Schroders Pushes Beyond Its U.S. Beachhead

Reported by Tommy Fernandez

Like the British forces advancing beyond Sword or Gold beaches at the end of D-Day, London-import Schroders [profile] is preparing to move beyond its established beachhead in the U.S. mutual fund market.

"On the sales side in the U.S., our first objective was to develop a beachhead and grow support around it," says Carter Sims, Schroder's head of U.S. intermediary distribution. "We've accomplished that."

The firm aggressively grew its U.S. sales force in 2012, hiring nine people. In the key accounts function, Schroder hired Tiffani Potesta, formerly of DWS, First Eagle and Pimco as head advisory sales, and also addedShirley Coto and Catherine Dooley.

Schroder's new field sales hires in 2012, which the firm calls "sales directors," were Jim Carpenter, formerly of Goldman Sachs and Evergreen, for the South Atlantic region, Bob Tisler, formerly of Cohen Steers, for the Northeast, and Brett Sohns for metro New York. Sohns had been originally hired as an internal sales director in March and was promoted to external in November.

Schroder's internal sales director hires for the year were Hollings Dworsky, formerly of Oppenheimer Funds and Bank of America, Adam Rouse, formerly of Allianz Global Investors, and Michael Gregory, formerly of JPMorgan.

Schroder's sales force now consists of nine external wholesalers and five internal wholesaler positions, with one job currently open, and one manager.

The firm now markets nine mutual funds in the U.S., with products that have garnered analyst approval and the recommendations of research firms on the Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and UBS platforms.

Now that it has its invasion force in place, Schroders is turning its attention to the fee-based market, namely, the advisors and the distribution platforms that serve them. "We are really looking at this space," says Sims.

Sims' team is, of course, traveling around the country knocking on the doors of advisor and distributor alike, but they are also working to develop as much online content as possible to proselytize to U.S. financial professionals the merits of Schroder's investment philosophy. For example, it recently launched a web site called Schroders U.S. Talking Point, featuring economic and investment commentary, without any mention of Schroder products.

"The industry has changed quite a lot in the past ten years. Value-added pieces are really necessary for advisors to educate their customers," says Sims. "Advisors really like to talk now about the value-added investment expertise they are delivering to their clients. They want to know about the quality of your content."

The primary message Sims' team is communicating to U.S. investors is the value of Schroder's expertise in global and emerging markets. The firm mounted its first offensive in this new battle last week during a presentation to financial journalists.

Sims wasn't able to comment on whether his firm was developing any new products, but he said that Schroders did see these areas as ripe for growth.

"We believe that the best position now for Schroders is to continue to grow on the merits of global and emerging market specialities," he says. 

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