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Money managers under the microscope

GAIM 2009: Numbers bear witness to crisis

June 16, 2009

 

Clouds over MonacoAttendance numbers are down at this year’s Global Alternative Investment Management conference in Monaco. Fewer hedge fund salespeople, fewer investors, fewer stands.

 

It is not really such a surprise, and not only because the attendee list was visibly shorter this year than in 2008. Of the around 800 registered visitors, perhaps 500 have turned up.

 

On the eve of GAIM last year, when perhaps 900 of the 1200 registered actually made an appearance, the streets of Monte Carlo were filled with hedge fund types drinking cocktails at one of the town’s many chic bars. On Monday, those bars were largely deserted.

 

A cursory glance into the investors-only pre-conference cocktail and dinners also indicated numbers were down sharply.

 

Not that this is a surprise of course. We have, after all, just come through a financial crisis – or are still in the middle of one – and funds, fund service providers and investors are obviously being more careful with their money.

 

Gone are the hordes of attractively-dressed marketing staff, business development personnel and salespeople from the largest hedge funds. In their stead, a handful of executives from the same funds, with a long list of investors they want to meet.

 

There are other signs too that the crisis is biting, even in Monaco.

 

One conference attendee said he had decided a couple of months ago to book himself and his wife in at one of Monte Carlo’s more swanky hotels, but had initially delayed booking, only to remember when the conference was just days away.

 

“I thought I’d left it too late and would either not get a room or have to pay through the nose,” he said. “I was really surprised to find the price was 30 percent lower than when I first thought about booking.”

 

Even the owners of Monaco’s swankiest shops seemed a little more downbeat than I remembered them last year. As I passed the Bentley shop, I noticed the owner looked positively whipped.

 

And I could have sworn the prices of the Bentleys were much lower than last year, too.

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