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Pure-Play Consultants Become Rare Breed amid Consolidation

The ranks of pure-play alternative investment consulting firms are thinning as the consulting industry consolidates and firms add money management to their services, a trend that winnows investors' choices and opens up consultants to potential conflicts of interest. Faced with increasing competition from general investment consultants and pressure from asset owners to reduce fees, alternative investment consultants are adjusting by merging with other consulting firms or augmenting services with higher-profit money management and managing discretionary assets.

A review of Preqin's top 20 list of nondiscretionary investment consultants and Pensions & Investments' database revealed only two pure-play alternative investment consultants that do not manage capital: Albourne Partners Ltd. and TorreyCove Capital Partners LLC.

As part of the $56.5 billion Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association’s search process earlier this year for a specialty investment consultant for hedge funds, illiquid credit and real assets, the Pasadena, Calif.-based pension fund scored bidders on potential conflicts of interest. LACERA in March hired Albourne Partners Ltd. as the best fit. Albourne had scored the highest of three finalists based on a number of factors that also included fees and services offered. Among its strengths, LACERA officials noted that Albourne was solely focused on alternative investments and that it had the least potential conflicts because it has a pure non-discretionary advisory model. The other two finalists derived a portion of their income from discretionary clients.

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