When it comes to finding sub-advisory mandates, the size of the asset management firm is not a key consideration, according to a survey of 33 companies by Financial Research Corp.

FRC analysis also found that sub-advisory assets reached an all-time high of $1.7 trillion in 2010, with mandate changes reaching $100 billion, another record.

“We were surprised to find that smaller firms were in essentially the same position on the playing field as larger competitors when it comes to learning about mandate opportunities,” said Lynette DeWitt, director of sub-advisory and lifecycle research at FRC. “Firms of all sizes learn of mandate changes in pretty much the same way, from the hiring manager. This wasn’t the only channel. The fact that there are multiple ways of finding out about mandates is good news, especially for smaller sub-advisors.”

What does matter to the hiring manager is overall performance. “Consistent with past survey findings, performance remains the primary criterion for sub-advisors to get on the radar screen of hiring firms,” DeWitt said.

Hiring firms also give a lot of stead to existing relationships and affiliated sub-advisors.

“Whether big firm or small, advisors have said that once a firm is in the running for a mandate, what’s critically important to securing the relationships is that the sub-advisor must be absolutely in tune with the needs of the hiring firm and be on top of its game during the selection process,” DeWitt said. “Uncovering the mandate opportunities is only the first step in the process.”