Criteria Financial Institutions Other: Rating Asset Management Companies

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1 March 18, 2004 Criteria Financial Institutions Other: Rating Asset Management Companies Table Of Contents Competitive Position Financial Management Operations 1 Standard & Poor's. All rights reserved. No reprint or dissemination without S&P's permission. See Terms of Use/Disclaimer on the last page

2 Criteria Financial Institutions Other: Rating Asset Management Companies In rating asset management companies, Standard & Poor's reviews the company's profile and business mix in conjunction with its financial performance and strength. Rated institutions have ranged from retail mutual fund complexes to institutional-only asset managers to a combination of the two. In reviewing the background of a particular company, considerations include the company's track record and its reputation in the marketplace. Standard & Poor's assesses the company's acquisition history, ownership structure, and organizational structure in terms of operations, management, and subsidiary ownership. Because each business segment has somewhat different competitive and earnings dynamics, Standard & Poor's carefully considers the company's business mix, which for most asset management firms is: Retail mutual fund management; Institutional asset management; or Combination of both. Competitive Position Because of the intensifying competition in this industry, it is important to a company's future viability to have a solid competitive position. The competitive dynamics vary, depending on which segment of the asset management business the firm is engaged in. Retail mutual fund business. It is essential for retail mutual fund companies to have strong distribution and marketing strategies. For mutual fund firms that sell through external sales forces, it is imperative to have a well-established and well-diversified network of salespeople at national and regional brokerage firms, banks, insurance companies, and financial planning firms. Many of these companies have very heavy concentrations with just a few institutions, which could pose risks as shelf space for mutual funds is at a premium. Many in the field are trying to increase the percentage of their sales generated through other financial intermediaries, including banks and independent financial planners, an increasingly popular sales channel for reaching individual investors. Typically, a company will have a wholesale sales department that interacts with the external sales force. These relationships, coupled with good client service to the sales force, are extremely important. Direct marketers of mutual funds rely almost exclusively on advertising and promotion to sell their mutual funds. These complexes sell directly to the shareholder and usually do not charge a commission to the investor. These companies must invest heavily in advertising and have large internal sales and support staffs to field investor calls and inquiries. Another key competitive factor is how the mutual fund companies price their funds. In general, there are two pricing options, "no-load" funds and "load" funds, referring to whether there is a sales charge to purchase the mutual fund. Most direct market mutual fund complexes do not charge a load, while the fund complexes that use a third-party distribution system do. Over the past several years, more pricing options have become available on load funds. In the U.S. for example, three of the most common pricing options include Class A, B, and C shares. Class A shares are offered at net asset value plus a sales charge of typically 4%-5%. Class B shares are sold without a load paid by the Standard & Poor s RatingsDirect March 18,

3 Criteria Financial Institutions Other: Rating Asset Management Companies investor; rather, the mutual fund company funds the sales commission to the financial intermediary at the point of sale. The fund complex is then reimbursed over time via the mutual fund's charging an additional fee to the investor under Rule 12b-1. In addition, many class B shares also charge an exit fee, commonly referred to as a contingent deferred sales charge. These 12b-1 and exit fees usually diminish over several years, at which time the class B share will convert to a class A share. Class C shares typically are offered at net asset value to the investor but do include a 12b-1 fee. These shares, however, generally do not convert to class A shares. In pricing load mutual funds, companies have to walk a tight line, balancing appeal to the commissioned sales force to sell the fund and appeal to investors. Along with a strong distribution network, it is advantageous for a retail mutual fund company to have a well-diversified product mix of funds. A company is more likely to have an investor become part of its "fund family" by having a variety of funds that satisfies the investor's diversified investment needs. Also, a well-rounded product mix protects against extreme market turns. For instance, if the U.S. stock market plummets, instead of redeeming out of the fund complex, investors may choose to transfer funds to safer short-term bond or money market funds. In looking at product mix, Standard & Poor's will also review whether a fund is overly concentrated in funds with high potential for market volatility. From a rating perspective, a mutual fund company should not have its funds under management concentrated in just a few mutual funds. Standard & Poor's considers it a positive for a fund company to have a track record of introducing new funds with long-term secular appeal, such as international funds or single-state municipal funds. The performance of a company's funds also is important to the entity's competitive advantage. Funds that perform well are easier to sell and promote, and may get publicity from analysts and periodicals. In general, Standard & Poor's believes it is better for a complex's funds to have long-term, above-average track records than for a company to have a few current high fliers that could plummet given a change in market conditions. Institutional asset management business. The institutional asset management business involves asset management for institutional clients such as corporate and municipal pension plans, endowments and foundations, and other corporate and public moneys. These funds are typically managed either as mutual funds open only to institutional clients or the individual portfolio management of a separate account. In this area, the investment performance track record of portfolio managers is key to attracting and keeping investors. Individual client service and shareholder reporting are also important. Individual accounts could be a large percentage of the asset manager's total assets under management, subjecting the asset manager to a risk of impaired performance should a larger account leave. Another subsection of institutional asset management involves the management of money market funds. These funds are primarily fiduciary and sweep monies from bank trust departments and smaller broker/dealers. This business is very much a commodity-type business in which the product is not easily differentiated, so competitive advantage is based on yield and management fees. The flow of funds in this business may be highly volatile. Therefore, in reviewing a company's institutional money market business, Standard & Poor's pays close attention to shareholder concentrations. Marketing and service to individual clients also are important competitive aspects. As a general rule, Standard & Poor's more favorably views asset management firms that have a combination of retail and institutional business?to help diversify revenue streams?than a firm with only one business segment. 3

4 Criteria Financial Institutions Other: Rating Asset Management Companies Financial Management Profitability/cash flows. In analyzing profitability, Standard & Poor's assesses a company's revenue mix and level of operating expenses and expense control, and its cash flow generation capacity. In general, sizable fund management companies with efficient operations have the potential for strong earnings power resulting from the management fee revenues generated from a large off-balance sheet asset base. Most of a fund management firm's revenues likely will be from management and advisory fees. These fees are usually calculated as a percentage of the average dollar amount of assets under management. This adds an interesting dynamic to the analysis, as the firm could be attracting funds from sales, but losing overall value in assets under management due to declining markets, and vice versa. Therefore, Standard & Poor's pays close attention to components that are driving changes in the firm's assets under management. Management fees vary depending on the business mix (retail mutual funds versus institutional managed accounts) and the asset class mix (equity versus fixed income, domestic versus international). Fees for retail fund management are generally higher than for managed institutional accounts. Fees for advising funds that require more research and portfolio management expertise (such as certain equity funds and international funds) will likely be higher than fees for advising funds such as fixed-income funds. Although management fees are typically an asset manager's largest source of revenue, other significant revenue streams are generated from distribution, shareholder services, and transfer agency fees. These fees, however, are more commonly associated with retail mutual fund firms. Standard & Poor's also will assess revenues that the company may derive from other business lines, such as banking operations or real estate activities. An asset manager's most significant operating expense likely will be compensation. The expense structure should be analyzed in terms of how much is variable and, therefore, what portion of expenses could be eliminated in a business downturn. The strength of an asset manager's cash flow is analyzed in terms of EBITDA. Standard & Poor's analyzes a number of cash flow scenarios, including adjusting EBITDA for certain other cash outflows, in determining the strength of EBITDA in covering the company's interest and debt payment obligations. Leverage/capital. Because asset management companies' core business is off-balance sheet, these companies tend not to have a large amount of on-balance sheet assets. When a firm does have a large balance sheet, many times a large component of the balance sheet is composed of intangibles. Asset management firms vary as to whether they maintain any significant amount of tangible capital, and many do not. Standard & Poor's views favorably companies that maintain capital and liquid investments because of the obvious financial strength and flexibility equity reserves provide to meet unforeseen contingencies. Operations In analyzing an asset management firm, Standard & Poor's also assesses the firm's operations, including the portfolio management area and shareholder accounting. Close attention is paid to the organization of the portfolio management/research area, professional experience of the management and research staff, and managers' investment philosophies. Since much of an asset manager's franchise is based on the quality of its portfolio managers, turnover rates of key portfolio managers is also scrutinized. Standard & Poor's also reviews the firm's investment decision-making process, risk management, and trading procedures. Shareholder accounting is another significant operation. Asset managers should have good systems in place to ensure their portfolios are being priced correctly and that shareholder accounts are being administered correctly. Mistakes in these areas are costly, especially in Standard & Poor s RatingsDirect March 18,

5 Criteria Financial Institutions Other: Rating Asset Management Companies terms of the company's reputation. 5

6 Copyright 2008 Standard & Poor's, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. (S&P). S&P and/or its third party licensors have exclusive proprietary rights in the data or information provided herein. This data/information may only be used internally for business purposes and shall not be used for any unlawful or unauthorized purposes. Dissemination, distribution or reproduction of this data/information in any form is strictly prohibited except with the prior written permission of S&P. Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by S&P, its affiliates or its third party licensors, S&P, its affiliates and its third party licensors do not guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. S&P GIVES NO EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR USE. In no event shall S&P, its affiliates and its third party licensors be liable for any direct, indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others use of the data/information contained herein. Access to the data or information contained herein is subject to termination in the event any agreement with a thirdparty of information or software is terminated. Analytic services provided by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services (Ratings Services) are the result of separate activities designed to preserve the independence and objectivity of ratings opinions. The credit ratings and observations contained herein are solely statements of opinion and not statements of fact or recommendations to purchase, hold, or sell any securities or make any other investment decisions. Accordingly, any user of the information contained herein should not rely on any credit rating or other opinion contained herein in making any investment decision. Ratings are based on information received by Ratings Services. Other divisions of Standard & Poor's may have information that is not available to Ratings Services. Standard & Poor's has established policies and procedures to maintain the confidentiality of non-public information received during the ratings process. Ratings Services receives compensation for its ratings. Such compensation is normally paid either by the issuers of such securities or third parties participating in marketing the securities. While Standard & Poor's reserves the right to disseminate the rating, it receives no payment for doing so, except for subscriptions to its publications. Additional information about our ratings fees is available at Any Passwords/user IDs issued by S&P to users are single user-dedicated and may ONLY be used by the individual to whom they have been assigned. No sharing of passwords/user IDs and no simultaneous access via the same password/user ID is permitted. To reprint, translate, or use the data or information other than as provided herein, contact Client Services, 55 Water Street, New York, NY 10041; (1) or by to: Copyright Standard & Poor's, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. All Rights Reserved. Standard & Poor s RatingsDirect March 18,

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