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Tuesday, August 28, 2012 04:51:27 PM

The Knowledge Brokers

The World’s 25 Most Influential Investment Consultants

There was a particularly spirited debate within aiCIO regarding this list. First off, the number: Why 25? the art director asked. Why not 20—or 15, even—so as to minimize the number of pages consumed? Second, how to avoid the anodyne? Our collective right brain yearned for something more profound than “The Top 25 Investment Consultants.” Lastly, do we rank them? Is the risk of offending more acute than the risk of being inoffensively equitable? The result of these deliberations is what you see now: A ranked list of the world’s 25 most influential investment consultants—what we refer collectively to as The Knowledge Brokers.

It is an appropriate title. Although their industry is changing—perhaps, even, because it is changing—there exists a small cadre of men and women who hold immense sway over asset owners. They hold that sway not because of the power to allocate assets or select managers for one pool of capital, but because of their ability to influence the allocation and selection decisions of multiple pools of capital or, in some cases, one enormous pool. They do not personally move capital; they propose and deal in ideas that, in turn, move capital. (Indeed, those consultants who are crossing into the realm of delegated consulting—or investment outsourcing—have been largely excluded from this list.)

We expect some consternation among our readership. (“If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing,” the wise Margaret Thatcher once said.) There will be those left off this list who deem their absence an insult. There will be those lower down who believe that they deserve to reach the heights withheld from them. There will be, of course, some who don’t think they deserve to be on this list, but are. If no one is entirely happy—well, besides the consultant we ranked first among all, who is obviously thrilled—we think that we’ve probably got it about right.