GCI has announced the appointment of Greg Flash as chief investment officer of its Asset Management division.
“The appointment of a chief investment officer for GCI Asset Management is a milestone appointment because it demonstrates our long-term ambition in this space, as well as reducing risk for clients by strengthening the top management team,” says Alex Funk, Head of Asset Consulting. “Greg has a very high reputation in the asset management and portfolio management world, and our team will benefit enormously from his experience and strategic direction.”
The fact that Flash’s clients have indicated they will transfer to GCI with him indicates the high regard in which he is held, Funk adds.
Flash originally qualified as a biomedical engineer but changed careers and joined the multi-management team of Alphen Asset Management, which later became PSG Multi-Management. In 2013 he left PSG to form Southern Cross Asset Consulting, which provided independent asset consulting to funds and portfolios here and overseas.
“After working with the GCI team over the past eight months, I decided to sell Southern Cross to GCI and join the GCI team. We share the same deep belief that independence is critical when it comes to providing the best investment advice, and for helping independent financial advisors thrive,” says Flash. “In addition, GCI offers a proven operational infrastructure, something a smaller company finds difficult to replicate.”
Southern Cross has assets under advice of R1 billion, virtually doubling GCI Asset Consulting’s book. GCI Asset Consulting was recently created as a separate division within GCI Asset Management. The new division now has more than R2 billion in assets under advice, a figure it aims to double by year end, a forecast that is conservative, Flash believes.
Flash’s first area of focus will be the retail market. “Independent financial advisors need to professionalise their businesses to withstand the new regulatory regime that lies ahead,” he says. “By making genuinely independent multi-management consulting available to the smaller independents, we will help them to build a bigger book of business and close more deals.
These regulatory changes are being driven by the Financial Services Board’s Retail Distribution Review proposals, which were published late in 2014. These proposals mark a critical stage on the Roadmap to Treating the Customer Fairly, which will ultimately govern the regulation of the financial services industry. Given the Retail Distribution Review’s emphasis on improving the service offered to customers and reducing their risk, GCI believes that many financial advisors will opt to outsource the time-consuming and highly skilled task of identifying and managing investments to specialists like GCI Asset Management.
“GCI has a proven model. My aim is to scale it up into Africa and then into one of the developed markets,” he concludes. “The new division was formed in response to strong demand from the independent advisor community for multi-management consulting that would enable them to service clients better and compete with the biggest investment houses. That’s what we are offering, and we believe the growth potential is considerable.”