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Strategic Advice+
We assist financial service firms on acquisitions, disposals joint ventures and partnerships. Please refer to our Deal Notes for topical Commentary.

We advise Senior Management in these industries in the areas of marketing, risk management and strategic planning.

Coaching and Mentoring+

For Senior Management that wants a sounding board for management and career questions.


We help our clients identify and recruit professionals in the Securities, Banking and Investment Management Industries.

Private Banking Advisory+
In addition to Strategic Advice and Help with finding suitable investment professionals we offer some additional services to selected High-Networth Individuals and Family Offices (Risk Management, Performance Measurement and Cost containment). For more details visit our dedicated Websites.



Fund Management Industry overdue for a Change?

Change is on the way, we know it, everything in life and business changes all the time. So why should the Fund Management Industry be any different?

Given how the industry evolved from a comparatively tiny base over the past 50 years nobody should be surprised that more changes are coming over the next 50 years (if civilisation lasts that long given that reckless gamblers seem to have their finger on the nuclear buttons).

But who knows where the journey will lead us? All one can really do is hire and employ smart people, stay lean in terms or cost and avoid being panicked into poor decisions.

Most people need help with their finances, passive investing will not wipe out good active management and bringing billions of people into a situation where they can afford to save will offer more than enough opportunities for the foreseeable future.


Zero Fund Management Fees?

Maybe at first sight it appears reasonable to wave any fund management fee if the performance does not match the agreed benchmark. And why not ask the fund manager to make a penalty payment as well? But to be serious, any business that agrees to a zero fee would not be viable in the long run. Better to agree fees to be calculated on a (three year?) rolling basis and set the fee in a narrow zone, for example basic 1% and a band of +/- 0.5% to adjust for over/under performance?

Softbank acquires Fortress - Marriage made in Heaven or Hell?

There could be no greater discrepancy between the business model of these two parties. Apart from the fact that Fortress alone already has its fingers in too many pies, this deal seems to increase the impact of 'diworsification' by the power of two. It will be interesting to see how this pans out over time. In the meantime, hats off to the Fortress Principals, it looks like an excellent deal for them!


FCA Report on Fund Management

It is always reassuring that the cast of thousands employed in the recently-established regulatory silos are put to good use. Even if it is mostly confined to produce volumes of paper that unfortunates in the businesses that they are regulating are forced to plough through.
29-Nov-2016 ...

Another painful lesson from a disastrous Acquisition

News that Unicredit finally has extricated itself from its exposure in the Ukraine serves as a reminder that 'Strategic Transactions' (Acquisitions, Disposals and Mergers) need the utmost attention and best Advice. We are proud to document that we voiced serious doubts when similar acquisitions were conducted some years back (a close look at the 'Mergers and Deals' Blog entries offers a salutary lesson in Merger Hybris).
The usual suspects among the coterie of advisers (Investment Bankers, Lawyers and Accountants) may all be worth their money but they are not always on your side as they tend to have a financial incentive to make sure that a deal goes through, whatever the rationale behind it.

Illiquid Bond Markets? - Brace Yourself!

Not much has to be added to my post from October 2014. Maybe the move to automated bond trading has accelerated a bit, but I would not expect that to be of any help when markets become stressed. But the issue is not off the table, and given the voices of prominent market pundits it is obvious that no one really knows what will happen if a major bear market in bonds arrives. But investors should remember that bonds are a conservative investment, or at least they should be. That means investing with a view to hold to maturity, so there is no real need for liquidity.

Future of 'Universal' Banking Model in doubt

The sudden exit of another Bank CEO - now at Barclays Bank - is a stark reminder that managing a 'Universal' Bank requires near-superhuman skills, and a good portion of luck (or friends in high places as JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon or Lloyd Blankfein at Goldman Sachs would probably confirm).

The business model did work quite well in a period of slow technological change, markets that were quite insulated and regulation that kept unwanted competition out.

But a universal bank is basically nothing but a financial conglomerate and the conglomerate model - while offering certain advantages - is not one that has demonstrated that it is likely to be successful in the long run.

Who still remembers names such as LTV or Gulf+Western? Both were high-fliers on the stock market until they hit the buffers as they become unmanageable, their mastermind retired or they hit unfavourable economic headwinds.

QE - should you laugh or cry?

More and more desperate calls for all-out QE in the Eurozone make me laugh and cry at the same time. Laugh because it is not very likely that the hoped-for revival of the economies in the weak member states of the zone will happen. One has to look at the micro-economic aspect of the problem: why would any business invest/hire just because the rate of borrowing has declined by some small fraction? Given high tax rates - and they are going up all the time, openly or in stealth fashion (think 'fees' and 'charges' by public bodies) it should be expected that the entrepreneurial class will cut back on its work load. Why not take it easy if the larger part (60, 70pct if one adds in tax on taxed income, i.e. VAT, stamp duties etc etc) of additional income is confiscated by a parasitic caste of politicians, bureaucrats and their favoured beneficiaries? And why would I cry? Because the chances that the march into ever-higher control of our lives via the permanent avalanche of ill-thought-out legislation and higher taxation/spending is not going to be reversed anytime soon.


Succession planning at Santander - an example to follow

Yesterday's announcement of the death of Emilio Botin, the man behind the immense growth of Banco Santander over the past decades, highlights the need to prepare for the smooth handover of leadership. While Santander may appear to be a special case - the succession is clarified on the next day - every business should be able to replace key personnel without delay. This applies not only to CEO roles but all managerial positions in the organisation. Internal promotions should be the rule as they boost morale and team spirit and usually are cheaper and quicker to realise.






Regulation: Race to the bottom?

Scared about Brexit?

Top firms sign up to 'name-blinding' plan

Read more on:

Bond Markets
Coaching and Mentoring

Financial Centres
Human Resources
Investment Banking
Investment Management
Mergers and Deals

Risk Management
Securities Markets




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