IT WAS off to the Banqueting House on Whitehall last night to celebrate with the great and the good of the asset management world, toasting themselves at the Financial News Awards for Excellence in Institutional Asset Management for having survived one of the most dire years the industry has ever seen.<br /><br />There were, of course, the obligatory no-shows &ndash; Larry Fink, the all-conquering chief executive of BlackRock, failed to turn up to collect his awards for deal of the year (for the acquisition of Barclays Global Investors) and chief executive of the year, which he scooped for the third consecutive year.<br /><br />And I hear Aberdeen Asset Management chief Martin Gilbert, also shortlisted for the chief executive award, had his troops call up to find out if he&rsquo;d won before declining to attend. Perhaps, in the absence of any silverware, he decided other engagements were more pressing.<br /><br />Still, the rest of the fund management crowd, including Henderson Group boss Andrew Formica and River and Mercantile&rsquo;s James Barham, played along willingly as the awards were handed out &ndash; to the lively tunes of &ldquo;La Bamba&rdquo;, Scouting for Girls&rsquo; &ldquo;She&rsquo;s So Lovely&rdquo; and Take That. How very rock &lsquo;n&rsquo; roll.<br /><br /><strong>SMUG WINNERS</strong><br />Among the other winners were Majedie, the UK asset management firm of the year; Brevan Howard, the European asset management firm of the year; hedge fund manager of the year Odey Asset Management; Allianz Global Investors Europe chief executive Elizabeth Corley, the most influential woman in asset management; and Odey Asset Management&rsquo;s Feras Al-Chalabi, who was named the industry&rsquo;s most promising rising star. <br /><br />The stars of the show can return to work today smugly brandishing their trophies &ndash; or at least, as one cynical guest remarked, &ldquo;preparing to demand a pay rise&rdquo;.<br /><br /><strong>STAMP OF APPROVAL</strong><br />Meanwhile, chatter among the tables turned to one of the industry&rsquo;s most influential veterans, John Duffield.<br /><br />Much has been made of the Jupiter and New Star founder&rsquo;s latest venture, Brompton Asset Management, though as yet, not a peep has been heard from the new firm itself. That is, until later this month, when I hear Duffield will receive the final seal of approval from the FSA.<br /><br />Watch this space.