When institutional giant Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM) descended on the UK retail market in 2013, people told the woman responsible for its future success that it was unlikely to get off the ground.
“A lot of people said to me ‘forget it’,” recalls head of UK retail Kristina Teahan.
“Convincing the market that we are here to stay – that we are serious about the UK market and that we are really invested – was difficult.”
She explains the industry was sceptical the firm’s range of Europe-domiciled SICAV funds would ever be embraced by the UK retail market, which was almost entirely dominated by UK-domiciled OEICs prior to the introduction of the Retail Distribution Review (RDR).
“But we have [been embraced],” says Teahan. “We are on every major platform, we have a number of strategic partners in the UK retail space – True Potential was the first – and we have built a diversified business in the UK.”
GSAM has had to build its retail business from scratch, hiring and placing staff across the regions of a “fragmented UK market”, and in its drive to build its name in the space, GSAM took “inspiration” from established players in the market for guidance.
However, the key component, Teahan explains, was the roll-out of its Strategic Advice Solutions (SAS) unit.
The service offers clients market insight from GSAM strategists, business support for their sales teams and blending analysis, which shows clients how best to incorporate GSAM products with the rest of their clients’ portfolios.
SAS enabled GSAM to build deeper partnerships with clients faster than they otherwise would have by offering additional services not typically expected of an asset manager.
Teahan says: “We had a relatively lean team so it was important to quickly identify the platforms and firms we wanted to work with.
“Instead of being everything to everyone, we wanted to hone in on certain clients and service them at all levels.”