In isolation the fact that Polin, the sales and marketing director, has left the company is of some consequence but it shouldn’t have any great material impact on the £76bn asset manager.
What is of greater significance is that he is the latest in a long line of senior management to leave the firm, and those that have left are all from the distribution side of its business. Polin is leaving to “pursue other interests” while Rob Page left as head of marketing in April and Jon Garland, head of discretionary sales, followed him in the middle of May – both have already joined the boutique fund house Ardevora.
All of these moves have come as its chief executive, Chris Samuel, pushes on with a change of strategy for Ignis, moving away from its joint venture-model with Maia Capital, Cartesian, Argonaut and Hexam to a proprietary fund business.
Maia Capital, a fund of funds boutique, was dissolved in mid-2009 less than two years after it was founded “after it failed to gather sufficient assets”; Hexam was founded in 2006 and four years later its management took itself out of the joint venture structure. Cartesian and Argonaut remain within the Ignis fold.
Whatever the model, distribution in the funds business is key and the message that Ignis is sending out with these personnel changes needs to be very carefully managed.
Are all three genuinely looking to further their careers and have chosen pastures new to do so? Is their departure a reflection of what they feel about the strategy the firm is following? Or is it simply a reflection on the range of funds they have to distribute? Or none of the above?
There were plenty of rumours floating around before Messrs Page, Garland and Polin left about how positive both fund and revenue flows have been, so to lose three high quality individuals from the same part of the business in quick succession – with others perhaps to follow – only adds fuel to the fire.
Who Samuel appoints from here on in will be a good indication of Ignis’ future direction. It will be interesting to see if it follows the Gartmore route to self-destruction or, dare I say it, the Liontrust path to a performance-led recovery.