The investable world of class actions is hotting up. Just as one big administrator, Goal Group, established an Asia Pacific office in Melbourne last month, now another big firm, Financial Recovery Technologies, has recruited father and son Brian and Lachlan Slade, to aid its expansion.
Brian Slade was formerly the head of Australia and New Zealand at Goal Group. He is also a former custodian, having run the BNY Mellon securities services business in Australia for many years. He was also the first chairman of the Australian Custodial Services Association.
FRT was set up in Australia by funds management marketer Allen Partners, but the firm recruited its first dedicated executive, Emma-Jayne Page as head of customer management, based in Sydney in 2018. She previously worked for Lazard Asset Management and before that at BNP Investment Partners. She was joined early this year by Sean Cookson, the managing director for Asia Pacific. Brian Slade will be based in Melbourne as general manager, sales and relationship management. The Australian team, led by Cookson, reports through to the CEO Rob Adler in the US. FRT was founded in 2008.
Cookson said FRT was the largest class action recovery and monitoring provider in Australia and New Zealand “by a wide margin”, although Goal claims to be larger at the global level. The nature of big investors taking advantage of class actions is such that there is some overlap in the client base of service providers.
Cookson said in an interview earlier this month that the firm was also considering opening offices in South East Asia. The headquarters is in Boston and the firm also has offices in New York, San Diego and London.
The launch of FRT is an interesting story. The founder, Sid Wolk, was a shareholder in Enron, the famous disastrous corporate collapse in the early 2000s. “He received a letter,” Cookson said, “saying he could participate in a class action against Enron. But when he called his broker he found that he had to do all of the administration himself. A couple of years later he got a cheque for US$35,000. So, he thought he could provide a better service to other investors.
Cookson has spent the past 20-odd years in financial services and technology, most recently at NASDAQ and Thomson Reuters, mainly in Asia. He said FRT had a big focus on the Asia Pacific region.