This article is written by Kishita Gupta, a Unitedworld School of Law, Karnavati University, Gandhinagar, graduate. This article discusses various aspects related to an investment management agreement that an individual enters into with an investment manager to manage the former’s investments.

It has been published by Rachit Garg.


Have you been facing an issue regarding managing your capital on your own? Did you know you can actually hire a person to manage your portfolio on your behalf? Employing a portfolio manager may seem like a luxury only the wealthy require or can afford. No matter how much money you have in your portfolio, it’s crucial to get the most out of every dollar. This is what investment management is all about. Human-centred capitalism promises a future in which more people have access to opportunities for generating wealth. No matter if you work in mutual funds, hedge funds, or private equity, investment management may help you turn obstacles into opportunities in a constantly shifting market. Thus, in order to manage investments, an investment manager is hired by entering into an investment management agreement. Therefore, in this article, we will be discussing all the aspects related to investment management agreements in detail.

What is an investment management agreement

Investment management is the management of a portfolio of investments or a group of financial assets. It can involve buying and selling assets, coming up with short or long-term investment plans, managing the asset allocation of a portfolio and coming up with a tax strategy. You can manage your investments on your own or with the assistance of an investment manager.

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Other names for services that provide oversight of a client’s investments are portfolio management and asset management. However, investment management involves more than just managing particular assets in a portfolio; it also involves making sure that the portfolio stays in line with the client’s objectives, level of risk tolerance, and financial priorities.

An investment management agreement is a formal legal document that sets forth the terms of the arrangement between an investor who is a client and the business or person who is an investment manager. It outlines the terms and the scope of the investment manager’s authority with regard to the particular investments indicated in the agreement.

Types of investment management

Aggressive management

A portfolio that targets better returns and frequently takes on bigger risks to do so is appropriately referred to as aggressive. This portfolio often contains a number of high-beta equities. These equities exhibit greater swings when compared to the market as a whole. When buying stocks or other financial assets, aggressive investors don’t always favour well-known companies. They frequently choose businesses that are still in the early stages of growth and have distinctive value propositions that can generate exceptional rewards for the corresponding risks.

Defensive management

A defensive portfolio, on the other hand, does not include equities with a high beta value. Typically, these shares are untouched by changes in the market. Given their low risk, investing in these stocks is generally safe. Neither do they provide extravagant returns during upswings nor do they tumble disproportionately during the lows of the business cycle. For instance, even during a recession, businesses that produce necessities for daily life, such as food and utilities, are likely to survive because of the high level of consumer demand. 

Selecting assets for a defensive portfolio is quite simple. Consider the objects that you absolutely require throughout the day and make investments in the businesses that produce them. Risk-averse investors should make a defensive portfolio their best chance.

Income portfolio management

A portfolio that generates income focuses on profiting from dividends or other ongoing benefits given to shareholders. Although it has many characteristics with a defensive portfolio, one key distinction is that it relies on equities with comparatively higher yields.

A great illustration of this is real estate. In exchange, it offers a larger portion of the profits as well as significant tax advantages. One perk of investing in real estate-related equities is that you can get all the rewards of doing business in a flourishing sector without having to worry about home ownership. Real estate isn’t extremely resilient during economic downturns, though, so that is a downside.

Speculative management

The speculative portfolio necessitates a high tolerance for risk; in fact, it is frequently contrasted with gambling. In this case, the portfolio is not only aggressive but also a wager on what good product or service might be offered in the future. Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) or takeover targets are excellent examples of this type of portfolio. This includes businesses engaged in cutting-edge research or significant discoveries in the healthcare or technology sectors.

Need for an investment management agreement

Advantages of an investment management agreement

  1. Investment management is the best option for businesses and institutions that have investable funds but lack the time or skills to manage an investment portfolio. The organization might desire to concentrate on its business activities while maximizing the earning potential of its extra cash.
  2. When an investor deals with an investment manager, they gain access to the knowledge of seasoned financial experts who work together to achieve their investment goals while always keeping their risk profile in mind. These professionals can choose when and which stocks to buy and sell in order to produce the best returns for your money because they have the research capabilities, skills, knowledge, experience, and cutting-edge technology.
  3. It gives competitive returns as the client company’s finances are not subject to the typical reserve requirements under an agency arrangement. Their money will be fully invested as a result of opportunities that offer greater returns than a typical savings account.
  4. An investor has the choice to spread out inherent risks by placing money in a variety of market-available alternative investments. Thus, adding the scope of versatility and diversification.
  5. Generally, before being recommended to clients, investments are first evaluated by the Investments Committee of the investment manager and then approved by the Trust Committee. Prime commercial papers, government securities, and time deposits are examples of investment options.
  6. Investment managers offer financial statements, supporting documentation, legal counsel and advocacy before relevant government agencies.

Disadvantages of an investment management agreement

  1. The biggest disadvantage is the cost of investment management services. There may be a variety of financial advisory fees and charges and these can reduce overall profits. Before committing to an investment management service, prospective clients are recommended to obtain detailed estimates that fully define all related expenses.
  2. Depending on the arrangement’s structure, there can be a loss of control.

What is the role of investment managers

An investment manager’s duties also include managing a portfolio, conducting research, investing, and buying and selling assets on a daily basis. They initially assess your present financial situation before setting appropriate financial objectives. They then create strategies and execute trades inside portfolios based on these objectives to get the highest returns for you.

Additionally, they assist in addressing any queries and worries, provide insightful investing counsel, and support you in making difficult financial choices. Investment managers, to put it simply, support wealth augmentation through strategic investments.

At the core of the financial sector, investment managers are in charge of making investments and generating profitable returns for their clients. Their primary duties are as follows:

Diversification of the portfolio

Diversification of the portfolio is a key component of investing, which is the investment manager’s responsibility. Diversification affects stock and bond investment choices, guarantees sufficient risk distribution, and maintains a healthy balance between assets and obligations.

Asset allocation

Investing in bonds, equities, real estate, and commodities is known as asset allocation. The success of the funds is substantially influenced by the quantity of money you invest as well as the securities, or asset classes, in which you invest. You may assess a fund’s effectiveness and success, as well as its potential returns, through asset allocation.

Research and review

An investment manager’s ongoing research and maintaining current knowledge of the market’s shifting trends are vital duties. The management must remain informed about the state of the economy, research and understand the different financial products that are offered and present prospects for investments that are pertinent.

Top clauses of an investment management agreement

An investment management agreement serves as a permanent record of the agreements between an investment adviser and its client. While the adviser will typically offer its own type of agreement, the client will still be required to make a number of decisions, may wish to negotiate a number of matters, and should in any case comprehend the agreement’s fundamental provisions. Some of the basic concepts you’ll want to remember if you’re the client are:


The adviser will be given either discretionary or non-discretionary power under the agreement. With discretionary authority, the adviser will be authorized to make investment decisions for your account without first seeking your approval. Non-discretionary authority requires the adviser to have your approval in advance of each transaction. The agreement should specify exactly what assets are to be managed with either sort of power. This is frequently accomplished by making reference to an account or accounts that you have with a certain custodian.

Powers and duties

Along with the authority, the agreement should also specify the exact powers and duties that are held by the investment manager. It includes a list of the duties the manager is required to perform, including making deposits, instructing the custodian or administrator on behalf of the client, and buying, selling, and dealing in investments. Additionally, it includes that the manager must work in good faith and with reasonable skill and care to make sure that any decisions made on a client’s behalf are appropriate for the client, taking into account his financial circumstances and investment goals.

Investment guidelines

The investment policies under which the account will be handled should be outlined in the agreement or in an attachment to the agreement. These rules should outline any investment allocations and investment restrictions, in addition to the purpose of the account. Given your current situation and risk tolerance, you should discuss with the advisor what the starting guidelines should be before periodically reviewing them. You should make sure that the investment instructions are clear and that you feel comfortable with them because they are the main tool you will use to control the activities of the adviser.

Fees and expenses

The agreement should specify the fees and compensation that are due to the adviser. The fees are frequently charged in advance or in arrears on a quarterly basis and are expressed as a percentage of the account assets (for example, 1% annually). Fees can be negotiated even though advisers will have typical charge schedules. For larger accounts and easier-to-manage aspects of the account, the adviser should be prepared to charge a smaller fee (e.g., for bonds and cash). You are accountable for paying brokerage commissions, custodian fees, and any other service providers’ fees in addition to the adviser’s fees.

Use of pooled vehicles and other managers

Advisors frequently place all or a portion of the cash in their client accounts in bank funds, hedge funds, mutual funds, and other pooled investments. The adviser or managers who are not linked with them may handle these vehicles. Additionally, advisors may enter into agreements with independent managers to invest all or a portion of your funds in a separate account. All of these agreements come with additional costs, which will be added to your account. Consider whether the adviser’s fee is suitably offset by the fees paid to the manager of the pooled vehicle or a separate account by understanding the scope and structure of these costs. Additionally, you should feel confident in the adviser’s due research on any independent managers.


The custodian who will keep the account’s assets should be identified in the agreement. The custodian should be an established financial institution with a solid reputation, like a sizable bank or brokerage, and should be impartial toward the adviser. In the event that the adviser suggests a certain custodian, it must provide justification. Additionally, the adviser should be open to working with the custodian you currently use or would otherwise choose.


The nature and frequency of written and oral reports should be specified in the agreement. Reports are typically issued quarterly and should include information on general market conditions, any account activity, current holdings, and the account’s performance in relation to pertinent benchmarks. Upon a reasonable request, additional reports should also be included in the agreement.


Once a buy or sell decision has been made, the agreement should specify how the adviser will trade assets in the account. You should have some comfort that you are obtaining the best overall pricing if the adviser trades through a third broker. Often, the agreement will permit the adviser to use the brokers it works with for research or brokerage services. The adviser will have a financial incentive to use such brokers, so you should be aware that this is permitted. You can also tell the adviser to use a specific broker, although doing so might raise your trading expenses.

Voting/class actions

The agreement should clarify whether the adviser or you will be responsible for voting proxies relating to the stocks in the account. Some advisers do not want to vote proxies because of the administrative burden. Proxy votes, however, can be significant, and the adviser is frequently more qualified to assess the concerns and ensure that your vote is recorded promptly. You might ask the council to bring class action lawsuits on your behalf for identical reasons.


The agreement should specify that the adviser will carry out its obligations in accordance with all applicable laws and rules. The agreement may also specify specific conditions, such as the adviser’s registration under state or federal law or the federal Investment Advisers Act of 1940.

Adviser liability

Unless there is purposeful wrongdoing, bad faith, simple or gross negligence and/or a violation of fiduciary responsibility, according to investment management agreements, the adviser is not responsible to the client. Some contracts might additionally include that the client will defend the adviser against third-party lawsuits. Although you should try to limit these kinds of provisions, advisers frequently object to substantial revisions. A limitation of advisers’ potential legal obligations under the securities legislation is also not authorized.


The agreement should state that you have the right to terminate it at any moment and/or with little to no notice without incurring penalties (e.g., 30 days). You ought to be allowed to end contact with the adviser if you’re dissatisfied without paying any extra fees.

But if there is a clause for a waiver, then it is made clear that no waiver of any right or remedy under the agreement shall be valid unless it is made in writing, and that any delay or omission on the part of the parties to exercise a right or remedy under the agreement does not constitute a surrender of that right or remedy.

Whereas, if there is a clause for severability, then it guarantees that the whole of the agreement will not be impacted if any provision of the agreement is found to be void, unlawful, or otherwise unenforceable, in whole or in part.

Top mistakes while drafting an investment management agreement

Well, nobody is perfect, and thus we are all bound to make mistakes sometimes. Therefore, while drafting an investment management agreement, one should keep the following points in mind:

Failure in negotiating the clauses of the agreement 

There may be instances where the client does not invest as much time as required for negotiations of the clauses to be put in the agreement and leaves it to the investment manager to decide, later regretting the decision. So it is advisable that the client must take part in drafting and give equal contributions as per his requirements.

Failure to proofread

Lethargic behavior during the signing of any agreement can prove to be disastrous for the future. Always proofread the agreement before signing it. If you find any clause that is not as per the negotiations between the investor and the investment manager, then discuss it with the other party and negotiate the terms. Discuss with a lawyer, if required. 

Failure to check the capacity of funds

The most crucial thing to confirm before entering into an investment management agreement is that the fund has the authority to do so, specifically the authority to grant the investment powers, indemnities, and other rights that are outlined therein. This shouldn’t be a problem in real life. However, take into account whether the manager’s appointment may also grant them special authority, such as the ability to lend stock or borrow against fund assets, which may not have been previously covered during the presentation at the beauty parade.

Failure to maintain a checklist for top clauses

It should be kept in mind that each and everything mentioned in the agreement holds some value. So, if one fails to mention any important clause in the agreement, it will not hold any value if demanded otherwise. Therefore, always make a checklist for clauses that need to be mentioned in the agreement and make sure that each of them is negotiated properly.

Discretionary investment management agreement

Discretionary investment management is a type of investment management where purchase and sell choices are made for the client’s account by a portfolio manager or investment manager. Investment choices are made at the portfolio manager’s discretion, as indicated by the word ‘discretionary.’ The client must, therefore, have complete faith in the investment manager’s ability.

Only those with extensive investment industry experience and advanced educational credentials are permitted to provide discretionary investment management. Many investment managers hold one or more professional designations, such as Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA), Chartered Market Technician (CMT), or Financial Risk Manager (FRM).

How to draft an investment management agreement

A standard investment management agreement consists of the following clauses:

  1. Investment accounts
  2. Services of adviser
  3. Discretionary authority
  4. Custody
  5. Brokerage
  6. Representations and Warranties
  7. Reports
  8. Management fee and expenses
  9. Confidential relationship
  10. Non-Assignability
  11. Directions to the adviser
  12. Consultation with counsel
  13. Services to other clients
  14. Investment by the adviser for its own account
  15. Proxies
  16. Notices
  17. Entire agreement and its amendment
  18. Termination
  19. Governing Law
  20. Effective date
  21. Receipt of Disclosure Statement
  22. Counterparts 

To access a draft investment management agreement, click here. You can also click here to access several types of investment management agreements.

How to negotiate an investment management agreement

Regarding custody

Several distinct methods of providing custody services are available. To offer custody, some managers will have agreements with a certain bank or another division of their own organization. Larger funds with many managers will have a second custodian selected. The organization will need to determine which duties will be performed by the management or custodian, depending on the situation, and who will be held accountable if they are not.

Where a separate custody agreement exists, it is crucial to make sure that it integrates seamlessly with the investment management agreement. 

The compliance division of the investment management or, in certain cases, the custodian, and the investment advisers frequently engage in heated discussions over who will be responsible for sub-custodian failure. Many custodians won’t, but some will. A common solution is for the investment manager to commit to choosing and keeping an eye on sub-custodians with reasonable care.

This applies to both the handling of cash and the case in which the custodian holds securities in a dematerialized form. For instance, a choice must be made on whether assets will be kept in separate accounts or combined with those of other clients.

Regarding fees

How clean is the fee for ‘clean’? For instance, are commissions, management fees for manager-owned unit trusts, and custodial fees included? If the situation is unclear to you, ask any of these questions.

Performance-related fees have been the subject of increased discussion recently, particularly with regard to specialized portfolios. If the management meets certain performance goals under this fee structure, it is eligible for an extra payment.

While some managers solely accept performance-related compensation, others are less eager. When there is a limited amount of stock available, one may assume that a performance charge will persuade the management to allocate the stock to funds that are subject to performance-related fees rather than those that are not.

Other managers make the observation that a performance fee offers the investment merely a weak incentive. Yes, the manager will experience some of the “pain” associated with underperformance, but over the long run, they won’t operate the fund any differently than if they were paid a regular fee.

Consider your goals when asked to negotiate a performance fee: are you looking for performance, asset security, or something else? An “all or nothing” price may be better suited to stepped thresholds.

Some investment consultants wonder if these fees actually offer an incentive or just reward good fortune. It is crucial from a legal standpoint to make sure the benchmark that triggers the additional performance fee is explicit.

Regarding signature

After the appointment letter has been approved, a decision regarding the signatory authority must be made. Even if reading all the fine print did not give you a headache, this may.

Violation of investment management agreement

Private fund litigation and arbitration cases have increased significantly as a result of instances of private asset managers fleeing, defaulting, delaying payments, or even being suspected of committing the crime of fraudulently collecting deposits from the public. Private investment manager breaches of contract can be categorized as fundamental breaches of contract and general breaches of contract, depending on whether the manager has violated its major obligations under the fund contract and whether the violation has rendered the investors’ or limited partners’ investment objectives unrealizable. There are significant differences in the accompanying civil liability and legal ramifications.

Fundamental breach

These violations consist of:

  1. The fund failed to follow recordal/registration requirements, which prevented the fund product from being legitimately constituted;
  2. The inability to conduct investment operations in accordance with the contract due to the fund manager’s failure to establish the limited partnership in accordance with the contract;
  3. The fund manager’s inability to update the partnership’s business registration prevented the investors from achieving the position of partner;
  4. Wrongful investment orientation; the fund manager’s inability to carry out the investment in accordance with the investment orientation stipulated in the contract or its failure to contact the investors before changing the investment orientation;
  5. Failing to fulfill its obligations under the contract due to the fund manager’s disappearance or inability to do business as usual; and
  6. The fund manager’s failure to honor the agreement and pay the investors’ returns.

General breach

There are numerous types of general breaches. With the exception of the aforementioned, any manager’s failure to uphold their contractual commitments over the course of managing the fund may amount to a general breach of the agreement, such as:

  1. Failing to provide the agreed-upon quarterly report and disclosure of the net value of the fund shares;
  2. Failing to fulfill its duty to notify;
  3. Failing to fulfill its commitments for early warning or stop-loss;
  4. The manager’s extension of the investment term that deviates from the protocol outlined in the fund contract;
  5. Failing to make liquidation arrangements; and
  6. Not purchasing the investment units back.


You can develop generational wealth by investing. Additionally, the earlier you begin, the better. As a result of inflation, cash loses value over time. So, over time, you risk losing money if you don’t invest in a method that helps you increase your money. Investment management is another strategy to close the wealth gap and promote wealth accumulation. There are difficulties in managing a client’s investments as investment management is not an exact science. Even seasoned professionals frequently make mistakes in their market predictions. Despite this, a client’s ire may nonetheless be directed at their advisor during a financial crisis, particularly if their portfolio experiences a decline. The emergence of robo-advisors, which provide a less expensive alternative to traditional investment management, has also presented new problems for the investment management sector. Thus, this article gave an overview of what an investment management agreement is and how to draft one.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the risks and expenses regarding investment management agreements?

Losses from changes in the market indices of those products’ interest rates, foreign exchange rates, or other indicators in the markets for financial instruments may result from investments made in financial products and financial derivatives under discretionary investment management agreements or advised to invest under them.

Risks associated with marketable security prices, issuer credit risk, interest rate, financial market risk, liquidity risks, etc., including the inability to complete a transaction under sufficiently liquid conditions, are just a few of the variables that could change (and with regards to investments denominated in a foreign currency, foreign exchange rate risk, etc.).

What is the scope of investment management?

Portfolio management, commonly referred to as investment management, is a continuous activity. This activity is dynamic. The fundamental functions of portfolio management include the following: integrating the most recent market circumstances while tracking the performance of the portfolio, determining the investor’s goals, restrictions, and preferences assessing the income from a portfolio (comparison with targets and achievement). Making portfolio adjustments and putting plans into practice that are in line with investing goals.

What is the objective of investment management?

One of the key goals of investment management is the reduction of risks or investment safety. Superstocks are only one example of the numerous different dangers that come with investing in equity companies. Remember that there is no investment that carries no risk. Additionally, investments with less risk produce lower returns. By creating a balanced and effective portfolio, you can strive to reduce the overall risk or bring it to an acceptable level. The full set of aims outlined above is satisfied by a strong portfolio of growth equities.



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