The pursuit of capital in the investment funds industry is an art and not a science, according to an exit poll of more than 350 delegates attending the Guernsey Funds Forum 2014 in London.

The half-day conference and exhibition, titled 'The pursuit of capital - art or science?', included two panel sessions - one on capital and how to raise it and another on capital and how to spend it - and a keynote presentation featuring Jim O'Neill, the former Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management and creator of the 'BRICs' acronym. The event at the Grange St Paul's Hotel on 1 May was moderated by both Sarah Montague, host of BBC Radio 4's flagship Today programme and ITV News anchor, Alastair Stewart OBE.

Using interactive voting for the second consecutive year, the Forum opened by asking delegates whether they thought the pursuit of capital was an art or science. The greatest proportion of delegates (59%) originally said it was a science but by the close of the event, after the influence of the two panel sessions and keynote presentation, this had been reversed, with nearly two-thirds of the audience (64%) believing the pursuit of capital was an art rather than a science.

Fiona Le Poidevin, Chief Executive of Guernsey Finance - the promotional agency for the Island's finance industry, said: "It was surprising to see how the answer to the art or science question varied from start to finish, particularly as the panellists brought different interpretations of how they perceived the pursuit of capital - the science of considered and well-researched investment in asset classes but based on the art of recruiting specialists in their fields and responding to investor demands.

"Our speakers were impressive and informative, including a number of fund managers with differing investor bases and expertise across a wide range of asset classes. Topping the afternoon off with an engaging interview with Jim O'Neill, led by Alistair Stewart, was particularly pleasing. Jim is a leading voice on the landscape of the global economy so when he says 'greed and fear are really close cousins' when it comes to investing, people are going to take notice. It was also interesting to hear his thoughts on global stability and his observation that bad regulation had caused the crisis and yet those regulators were still in place now, while there had been a significant shake-up of the banking world."

Eric Martineau-Fortin from White Star Capital, John Magrath from TwentyFour Asset Management, Christophe de Taurines from Capital and Marketing Group and Ben Edwards from Syntaxis Capital made up the first panel session, 'How to raise it'.

"Christophe in particular suggested that investing in alternatives is 'the only way' to bridge the funding gap in ageing populations across the globe. The panel also largely agreed with the audience's view that pension funds followed by family offices would be the investor communities most likely to see the biggest growth in alternative investing over the next five years," said Miss Le Poidevin.

The event's second panel debate, 'How to spend it', comprised Antonio Buzaneli from Providence Group, Aldo Beolchini from NextEnergy, Ghalib Chaudhuri from Odyssey Capital, Dr Florence Eid-Oakden from Arabia Monitor and Nick Money-Kyrle of Steadfast Capital.

Miss Le Poidevin said: "It was interesting to hear the panellists' views on the different regions they are operating and investing in, including the US, Brazil, the Middle East, India, the Far East, Africa and Germany. Themes that arose included political stability, risk appetite and cultural aspects, while Aldo said the key to success was 'insuring you are a specialist in your asset class - pick what you can do and focus on the execution'."

Among the delegates was Debojit Mukherjee, Head of Operations for Change Capital Partners, who said the event had been timely and informative.

"It was relevant to what we are doing at the moment. It was a good mix of different backgrounds and where people stood. It's always good to hear people's views across various countries, the Middle East and Brazil. It gives you a better reflection of where the world is economically," said Mr Mukherjee.

Keith Driver, Analyst at Sustainable Development Capital, and Cathy Pitt, Partner at CMS Cameron McKenna, were also impressed with the event.

"I think Guernsey Finance put on an excellent show for an interesting group of investors and GPs [General Partners] - a broad spectrum of the financial universe. The calibre of panellists was very strong," said Mr Driver.

Ms Pitt commented: "Another really great event with loads of people attending, which shows how much support for Guernsey there is in London, and great speakers. There was a general feeling on the positive side on fundraising and the outlook. I like to support Guernsey, it's been really good for my business."

As well as the conference, there was also an exhibition of Guernsey service providers, including the Island's leading fund administrators, custodians, multi-jurisdictional legal practices and global accountancy firms. The event, hosted by Guernsey Finance in conjunction with the Guernsey Investment Fund Association (GIFA), was supported by the Alternative Investment Management Association, the British Venture Capital Association, Global Custodian, HFM Week, Investment Europe and unquote".

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