Inside Money

Business writer David Chaplin blogs on personal finance

Inside Money: AMP/Harbour defectors to launch new fund

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Another Auckland-based boutique funds management shop will open for business shortly, fronted by two long-time industry associates.

Both John Phipps, currently deputy head of equities at fund giant AMP Capital, and Darryl Briggs, investment strategist at Wellington firm Harbour Asset Management, are serving out notice with their respective existing employers but should have their, as-yet unnamed, business operational within a few weeks.

Briggs confirmed he was moving to Auckland from the Wellington-based Harbour - itself a boutique firm that emerged after the global mega-manager AllianceBernstein shut down its NZ operation - to launch the new business.

"I can't say much more about it at the moment but I will be shifting to Auckland soon," he said.

Phipps and Briggs have worked together previously. The two are also joint directors and shareholders of a registered company that dates back to 1994, which Briggs said won't be used as the legal structure of the new fund.

It is understood the venture would take over the AMP Capital New Zealand Equity Opportunity Fund, a product Phipps has managed since it launched in 2007.

With about $27 million under management the NZ Equity Opportunity Fund represents only small change to AMP, which has apparently given its blessing to the move.

But the Phipps/Briggs fund - that will probably invest in NZ/Australasian equities - will be entering an increasingly-crowded boutique market.

In the last year alone, the former BT/Westpac NZ investment team spun out as Salt Funds Management while the ex-Tower fund crew were reconstituted as Castle Point Funds Management people after being ditched by Tower's new owner Fisher Funds.

As well, Phipps and Briggs will have to content with a number of slightly-more established boutique NZ share managers like Devon Funds Management, Mint Asset Management (which recently lost its well-known portfolio manager, Shane Solly, to Harbour) and Milford Asset Management.

However, Briggs said there was plenty of space in the market for a differentiated boutique fund.

"Not all funds that sit under the boutique label are the same," he said.

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