Robeco CEO Munsters predicts UK office to open in late 2015

Roderick MunstersRoderick Munsters, chief executive officer of asset manager Robeco Group, anticipates that plans announced last year to open a UK office, as part of the firm’s drive to expand, will come to fruition before the year is out.

In an interview with Funds Europe, Munsters commented: We’re now in the strategy of trying to grow ourselves again; the tagline of the strategy is accelerated growth. For that we’re open for hiring, for spending, for setting up shop.

“We are pretty advanced in preparations for opening a UK office, I’d say somewhere in the fall, early winter.”

He added that with cost base at market levels and promising growth, the firm is also open to opportunities for mergers and acquisitions activity.

Munsters acknowledged that the group has undergone significant change in recent years, cutting costs by downsizing the workforce and building up assets to improve profitability.

Now two years on from the acquisition of a 90% stake in Robeco Group by Orix Corporation in July 2013, Munsters says the current climate is a positive environment for active managers and he is keen to build up long-term connections with clients.

“If you can’t show your value-added now then I think you’re up for a difficult time,” he says, adding that it is important for managers to take a view and avoid staying too close to the benchmark, a theme explored in Funds Europe’s February feature: ‘In defence of active management’.

“Ideally you have a contract with your client, maybe not on paper but morally, that you’ve got a business cycle to show that you are adding value,” Munsters comments.

“Typically we would like our clients to sign up to the idea of us outperforming in the long run, not just on a quarterly basis, which is difficult enough and more so when markets are as choppy as we’ve seen.”

Munsters says that booming client interest in European equities is one area that Robeco is currently looking to take advantage of by offering two products: RobecoSAM Quant Sustainable Global Equities and Robeco European Conservative Equities.

“They cater to different client needs, but on the back of Europe gaining further strength and the euro remaining rather weak, rates remaining low, oil being cheaper … we expect those markets to do very well and those strategies to outperform.”

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