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La Française Investment Solutions – Best Credit Long/Short Manager

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La Française Investment Solutions (LFIS) was founded in 2013 and has a clear value proposition for the marketplace: to recreate, operationally speaking, an investment bank in an asset management company. 

"This is based on our unique DNA that combines asset management, with a focus on quantitative techniques and structured credit, and investment banking thanks to the strong experience of the team in capital markets," comments Arnaud Sarfati (pictured), co-Founder and Head of Business Development. 

LFIS currently has USD6 billion in assets under management and is part of La Française Group, which had EUR60 billion in aggregate AUM at the end of December 2016. 

LFIS's co-Founder and current CIO/CEO is Sofiene Haj-Taieb. Previously, he was Deputy Head of Global Markets at Societe Generale Corporate and Investment Banking, working alongside Sarfati for 15 years. Renaud Champion, Head of Credit Strategies at LFIS, has 18 years' experience, having previously worked as Co-Head of the Corporate Credit Team at AXA Investment Managers. 

"Within the credit team we have a wide breadth of experience investing in many aspects of the credit asset class with experience across research, trading and portfolio management. Michael Hattab-Maruani, Senior Portfolio Manager, has a strong trading background and was previously Head of US Credit Equity Proprietary Trading at BNP Paribas. Stephanie Ferrieu, also a Senior Portfolio Manager, has 20 years' experience and has a credit risk background, having formerly worked at rating agencies and doing credit research alongside me at AXA Investment Managers," explains Champion.

This combination of capital markets expertise and asset management expertise allows LFIS to operate as a next generation asset management company. 

"We have built a platform that is able to track, trade and risk monitor market dislocations and opportunities," says Sarfati. "We are a multi-asset player with a strong relative value approach. To do this requires pragmatism and a strong emphasis on quantitative techniques and risk management."

To manage the USD6 billion of AUM, LFIS runs two main pillars. The first pillar is Alternative Investments, within which the firm manages its flagship LFIS Vision – Credit Opportunities Fund, a long/short credit vehicle, whilst the second pillar is its Investment Solutions business. 

Around USD1.8 billion of the USD6 billion in assets are held in Alternative Investments, the rest is in Investment Solutions," confirms Sarfati. He adds that because LFIS wanted to recreate the infrastructure of an investment bank within an asset management company, it was important that they developed their own valuation tools and risk management tools. 

Champion expands on this point: "When we launched LFIS Vision – Credit Opportunities in 2013, we plugged external tools such as IntexSolutions, Inc, (analyses structured credit deals) and UBS Delta into our in-house front-to-back solution. We use these sorts of external tools to provide risk analytics on the positions in the fund and upload the results back into our own systems."

In terms of the culture at LFIS, Sarfati believes that having the backing of a strong majority shareholder – Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe – coupled with the fact that the founders and partners at LFIS own 49 per cent of the company, means that "We not only take comfort from having the backing of a larger organisation, we also have the capacity to bring an entrepreneurial mindset to the partnership. That is a good combination for attracting top talent."

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