Footloose fund managers

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Tying fund managers down isn't easy. Big money and big buybacks are proving handy restraints.

"The really good people are always bought back," says Kim Yates, director of headhunter Principal Search. "Employers are fighting hard to keep staff. I've seen hundreds of thousands put on the table."

The impetus behind the 100k carrots is very clear when you consider that Bloomberg reports Fidelity International has lost about US$3bn of funds since the resignation of Graham Clapp at the start of this year.

The hardest people to shift are UK equity managers, according to Chris Manfield, head of the European asset management practice at search firm the Whitney Group: "Most of them tend to be in boutiques with huge amounts of equity which need to be bought out," he says.

Yates says big demand for fund managers has served to propel pay for top performers closer to that of investment bankers: "There is a far greater number of people on seven figure packages now. Those kinds of figures used to only be seen in investment banks."

Both Yates and Manfield say demand is strongest for people to manage listed real estate funds, particularly in continental Europe. Manfield also cites new green energy funds and UK and global equities - "More and more global equities funds are being managed out of London."

In hot areas, funds might just be going too good a job of gluing people to their seats. Richard Wohanka, chief exec of Fortis Investments, told people at last week's European funds jamboree in Monaco that too many fund managers are now locked in and there's not enough job market mobility.

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