(Pictured: Stephen Karrasch)
by Greg Bright
Findex Group, which now has $15 billion under management and administration from the retail sector, has recruited two big names to oversee its investments, following the insourcing of advice and admin from Philo Capital. Philo’s Stephen Karrasch has landed at Aurora Funds as the new head of distribution. It’s an interwoven story.
Philo Capital, a provider of investment valuation software (PhiloPort), asset allocation and administration services, particularly for the managed accounts market, was nurtured into the former Centric Wealth dealer group by that firm’s then-director, Chris Cuffe, the famed former head of Colonial First State who developed one of the first two big wrap platforms for the Australian market – challenging at first ASGARD and now the BT Wrap.
Cuffe’s vision at Centric, from 2009 to 2012, was to streamline the solutions for advisors and their clients and give them greater flexibility and transparency through managed accounts rather than managed funds.
Philo, founded by Brett Sanders and Ashley Owen, transitioned to Centric about $3 billion in separately managed account money over the four years up until its contract was terminated at December 31. Findex had taken over Centric earlier last year, rationalized some of the positions to achieve synergies, and decided to insource all the investment capabilities.
The two big names Findex has recruited to its investment committee are Chris Condon, a former CIO of MLC and, before that, head of investment consulting at Russell Investments, and Emmanuel Calligeris who ran ING Group’s former masterfund, Optimix, for about 20 years. The investment committee independently mandates Findex’s approved product list. More problematic for Philo, Findex also recently recruited Stefano Cavaglia as head of investment research. He was head of funds of funds at Philo.
For Karrasch, an experienced marketer dating back to Rothschild Australia Asset Management, where he was head of retail distribution, prior to its purchase by Westpac in 2002, the move to Aurora Funds is a return to offering pure investment capabilities across a range of strategies at both the institutional and retail level.
As previously reported, the Aurora Funds business was acquired last year by its largest shareholder, Keybridge Capital, with the intention of growing the business into a mainstream incubator of boutiques, starting with alternatives managers. Aurora’s former head of distribution, Simon Lindsay, has become the chief executive. One of Aurora’s founders, John Corr, is an experience hedge fund manager who runs the inhouse absolute returns fund strategy.
Aurora has been an innovative distributor also. It has two of the seven new ASX-listed exchange quoted managed funds, known as Exchange Traded Products, which recently grabbed the headlines because of Magellan Group’s listing of look-alike fund for its big global equities strategy as an ETP. Aurora also has an RE service and administration capabilities suitable for an incubator operation.
Karrasch said last week that Aurora would continue to work with the major platform providers as well as developing strategies, such as its ETPs, which are suitable for the direct SMSF and managed account markets. (BT Wrap’s new platform, Panorama, is expected to include a managed account facility this year.)
He was one of the first employees of OneVue, which was started by fellow former Rothschild executive Connie McKeage in 2007. He left that firm last year when it acquired several other businesses and listed on the ASX itself.
“I still have a great passion for the platform business,” he said. “I have great respect for Connie and do think that mFunds and other ASX-listed investment products are the way of the future.”