July 2007


Ahead of the Fund Forum conference in Monaco, we asked three senior executives what the main achievements of the European asset management industry over the last twelve months have been and what challenges lie ahead Richard Wohanka Chief executive, Fortis Investments
“The industry has successfully coped with the advent of absolute return investing.  Due partly to the influence of hedge funds and the seemingly expensive levels of many asset classes, especially bonds, companies have met investors‘ demands for products driven off a cash benchmark rather than an invested one. Moreover, they have been able to do this at fee levels more commensurate with the returns generated than many classical hedge fund competitors.
  “Next year, as markets continue to rise profits have grown.  This has led to increased costs and lower levels of business discipline. It seems more likely as a result of the rise in price levies of almost all asset classes, non-credit related bonds excepted, that a downturn in markets will occur. Due to the extent of leverage that now exists this downturn may well be more brutal and sudden than previously. Companies will thus have to face a market environment they have not faced for five years. How they adjust their strategies and structures will separate the wheat from the chaff.” Gilles Glicenstein President and CEO,  BNP Paribas Asset Management
“The main achievement of the European fund industry in 2006 is that it has become truly global. Globalisation was definitely a prominent trend. From the product side, European managers increased their investments in other markets, especially in emerging countries. This diversification has led to enhanced returns. Sales went global too, with sustained demand for UCITS funds, which are becoming the global standard. Asian investors were particularly active and attracted the lion’s share of international flows. Consequently, the combination of inflows and performance has driven assets to historic heights in 2006; Europe currently accounts for more than one third of worldwide assets in investment funds. The main challenge going forward will be the impact of upcoming MiFID regulation. There is a risk that distributors will shift their focus from mutual funds towards products that remain outside the directive’s scope, such as notes and certificates.” Marcus Svedberg Chief economist, East Capital
“We have seen the asset management industry in Europe diversifying in terms of strategies offered to investors. It is probably most obvious in Eastern Europe. The standard Eastern European fund with strong exposure to a few large caps in Central Europe, as well as to Russian energy, is being challenged. More and more investors are discovering the other markets in the region – from the Baltics to the Balkans to Central Asia and the Caucasus – that are not only new and fast-growing but also different. This expansion into new territories may look risky at first but has boosted diversification and thereby lowered the risk for investors, as Eastern European funds are becoming less dependent on a few sectors and markets. These new markets are often small and illiquid; there is a challenge to increase the knowledge and understanding of these markets, and successful investment strategies require expertise and focus.” © fe July 2007

Executive Interviews

INTERVIEW: Put your money where your mouth is

Jun 10, 2016

At Kempen Capital Management, they believe portfolio managers should invest in their own funds. David Stevenson talks to Lars Dijkstra, CIO of the €42 billion manager.

EXECUTIVE INTERVIEW: ‘Volatility is the name of the game’

May 13, 2016

Axa Investment Managers chief executive officer, Andrea Rossi, talks to David Stevenson about bringing all his firm’s subsidiaries under one name and the opportunities that a difficult market...


ROUNDTABLE: Beyond the hype

Oct 13, 2016

The use of smart beta investing continues to grow. Our panel, made up of both providers and users, discusses what the strategy actually means, how it should be used and the kind of pitfalls that may arise when using this innovative investment technique.

MIFID II ROUNDTABLE: Following the direction of travel

Sep 07, 2016

Fund management firms Aberdeen and HSBC Global meet with specialist providers to speak about how the industry is evolving towards MiFID II.