Dealing with the regulatory fallout after the financial crisis has dominated recently, this was reflected in the previous conference schedules. Now they want to refocus on clients’ needs and to encourage networking.
Although growth in Luxembourg fund net assets was healthy last year, it was down relative to recent years. An increase of 6.7% in 2016 was creditable, but was preceded by four years of double-digit growth. So a gentle reminder that the industry needs to keep fighting for investors’ loyalty. A rethink for Alfi’s annual conferences is part of this process.
Hence the upcoming “European Asset Management Conference” is the new name for the “Spring Conference”, and the “PE RE Conference” replaces the “European Alternative Investment Fund Conference”.
Anouk Agnes, the organisation’s deputy director general and director of communications and business development, explains: “Renaming these conferences underlines our intention to focus more on the core business of funds: the day-to-day activity of managing assets.”
The first morning of the 21-22 March 2017 event sets the tone. There are panels discussing “What’s driving the asset management world today?” and “10 years post-financial crisis--has asset management become a ‘better place’ for investing?” followed by a presentation on “A geopolitical world view of asset management”.
Regulation can’t be forgotten, of course, with much of the second afternoon devoted to the latest trends. A further novelty is a wrap-up panel at the end of the conference where the broad strategic conclusions will be described.
As for November’s two-day “PE RE Conference”, it will focus principally on, respectively, private equity and real estate funds, with a day dedicated to each. Luxembourg is the leading European cross-border specialist in these areas. Hedge funds will not be forgotten, even though they are a smaller niche in Luxembourg. Specific sessions will be organised for those products.
What’s the alternative?
“Asset managers generally don’t think of themselves as ‘alternative’ players, but private equity, real estate and hedge fund specialists, and we wanted to reflect this,” notes Agnes. The larger fund houses operate in both markets, but many are either real estate or private equity specialists. Alfi expects this new division will make it more attractive for specialist players to attend.
Networking is for many the key motivating factor for attending conferences. Hence the format will be tweaked to give more opportunities to talk to new people and firm up old business acquaintances.
As well as a greater number of more tightly focused break-out sessions, the lunch and coffee breaks will feature “Short and Sharp” sessions where ideas and products will be introduced and discussed in a more informal environment.
There will be no change in name for the venerable “Global Distribution Conference” in September. The name of this event continues to do the job, explaining the essence of what the Luxembourg fund industry is about. These three major conferences generally attract in excess of 700 people.