Former Fisher Funds co-guru Warren Couillault has, out of left field, joined the KiwiSaver game with a new scheme set to go public in a month or so.
The Generate KiwiSaver scheme was registered with the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) late in December just as the holiday season commenced.
In November, Couillault formed Generate Funds, a company whose shareholders include Henry Tongue, a name familiar to KiwiSaver aficionados as a senior portfolio manager with the now defunct Huljich scheme (since absorbed into the Fisher empire).
It is understood Tongue will assume similar duties with Couillault's Generate, however, full details of the scheme's investment strategy and structure are yet to be released.
Generate is unlikely to emulate the outlandish scale of Couillault's former partner, Fisher, in the KiwiSaver market as the major competitive ground has already been staked out and member growth rates are beginning to taper off.
Nonetheless, as the only real growth market in New Zealand funds management, KiwiSaver is a hard target to resist and there may yet be new niches worth exploring.
Which niche Generate is aiming for is unclear. Since leaving Fisher in 2008 Couillault has focused on the high net worth market (rich people) via his Richmond Investment Management vehicle.
Richmond is an exotic beast for NZ, operating as an international hedge fund multi-manager ie Couillault and co invest into a range of specialist hedge fund managers (whose names remain secret).
It's hard to see Generate operating as simply a feeder into the Richmond products but anything is possible. As at press time Couillault was not available for comment.
While Generate offers a welcome surprise start to 2013 other more long-running KiwiSaver plots are due for resolution this year, including:
* BNZ finally getting its KiwiSaver act together;
* the ultimate fate of the Tower scheme;
* completion of the merger of KiwiBank's AMP-run KiwiSaver product with the Gareth Morgan scheme (which, interestingly, appointed JB Were as an independent custodian late in 2012), and;
* the likely merger of the AMP and Axa schemes, a process AMP admits in a recent prospectus is already being considered.
All this, and more, to come.By David Chaplin