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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

An MF Custody Titan Prepares to Double Down In Several Areas

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

The chief of a mutual fund back-office and custody giant is "really doubling down on some ... high growth segments" such as supporting ETFs, private equity, and RIA separate accounts.

Joseph Neuberger
U.S. Bank Global Fund Services
That doubling down, says Joe Neuberger, is one of his four main pillars of focus heading into 2020. Neuberger leads Milwaukee-based U.S. Bank Global Fund Services (a U.S. Bank subsidiary fka U.S. Bancorp Fund Services until about a year ago), and as of March the 50-year-old fund back-office shop supported $1.4 trillion in client assets across 4.6 million shareholder accounts in 4,274 fund shareclasses in 3,432 portfolios from 609 fund families.

One 2020 change for Neuberger and his team will be a divestment. Two weeks ago, Neuberger unveiled a deal to sell U.S. Bank's third-party mutual fund and ETF distribution shop, Quasar Distributors, to Foreside Financial Group. Neuberger puts that deal, which is expected to close in Q1, in the context of his second pillar of focus: making sure that the U.S. Bank Global Fund Services team is "properly leveraging and bringing to [its] client base the full suite of products that U.S. Bank has to offer."

U.S. Bank is the only remaining bank administrator that has an affiliated broker-dealer, Neuberger explains, which means that affiliation prohibition issues restrict their ability to offer things like securities lending, foreign exchange trading, and secured lines of credit to U.S. Bank Global Fund Services clients.

"It kind of got in the way of our business," Neuberger tells MFWire. "We had to find a solution that continued to provide a packaged solution with Quasar."

"All of our people are taken care of," Neuberger adds, lauding the Quasar team's expertise in things like selling agreements and mutual fund supermarket interactions. "Our client base really appreciates the value that Quasar brought."

A third pillar of focus for Neuberger, he says, is U.S. Bank Global Fund Services' "continued global expansion."

"We've been spending a lot of time and deepening our global custody network, adding additional subcustodians to our global network," Neuberger says, noting their efforts in Ireland and a recent filing to become a licensed administrator in Luxembourg. (Ireland and Luxembourg and fund services hubs for asset management products for distribution in Europe.)

Neuberger's fourth pillar of focus, he says, is boosting their digital capabilities.

"We're really trying to enhance the delivery to our clients," offering them access to data and more, Neuberger says. Stay tuned for updates to U.S. Bank Global Fund Services' web portal for fundsters.

Looking ahead, Neuberger is keeping an eye out for acquisitions in the fund services business. He confirms that they considered a handful of possibilities in 2019.

"Private equity money in that space has made multiples a little bit difficult," Neuberger says. "We are very interested in looking at targeted acquisitions within our space." 

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