Asset Manager of the Year 2014: Aberdeen

Asset Manager of the Year 2014: Aberdeen

Aberdeen Asset Management, winner of the 2013 European equities manager award, has furthered its success to be voted by this year’s Global Investor/ ISF judging panel as the top asset manager.

The firm hit the headlines last year when it acquired Scottish Widows Investment Partnership (Swip) for £550m ($935.8m), resulting in Aberdeen overtaking Schroders to become the largest listed independent asset management company in Europe.

The acquisition, which completed at the end of March, combines the two firms’ strengths across fixed income, real estate, active and quantitative equities, investment solutions and alternatives. Aberdeen has now taken over management duties of £2.9bn of Swip’s active equity funds, which mostly invest in Europe, expanding Aberdeen’s existing £104.4bn actively-managed equities business.

Aberdeen also acquired Artio Global Investors in May last year, adding global high yield and US total-return offerings, complementing its established fixed income expertise. Speaking at the FundForum conference in June, Aberdeen’s chief executive Martin Gilbert said the firm received greater than forecast savings from the Swip acquisition. As a result it expects to raise its dividend this year as well as seeing potential to buy back shares.

Over the past year Aberdeen says it has continued to focus on delivering long-term returns for clients. Its multi-asset strategy outperformed its benchmark by 3.75% over five years as of December 31 2013. Aberdeen has made significant steps to enhance its business model in order to strengthen client services and believes that its commitment to innovation has been more in evidence this year than ever before.

Its achievements included re-structuring and bolstering Aberdeen Solutions, which caters to pension schemes and other institutional investors, giving clients seamless access to hedge fund, private equity, multi-manager property, multiasset and long-only multi-manager teams.

The firm expanded the size of its Solutions investment team by 15% since last year, with the aim of ensuring that it is flexible, quick to respond and can build a portfolio specific to client needs in a matter of weeks. Aberdeen also made changes to its European fixed income investment team in order to strengthen its service to pension fund clients.

It relocated the team, comprising a group of five, to sit within distribution, with the aim of proving pension scheme clients with specialist expertise in a clear, simple and coordinated way. Aberdeen says it aims to cater to pension schemes of all sizes, types and levels of sophistication, delivering off-the-shelf products through to complex, tailor-made or outcome-oriented solutions.
Another accomplishment was the implementation of new strategies and launch of 11 new funds, including Aberdeen’s Global World Government Bond fund, Global Frontier Market Bond fund, European Secondaries Real Estate fund, UK ICVC Strategic Bond Fund, France – Dedicated FCP MNRA Haut Rendement (US High Yield), in addition to six US Open Ended Funds.

The firm believes that one of its strengths lies in the research and seminars it provides for the benefit of clients. In 2013 Aberdeen continued the success of its Pensions Intelligence programme of seminars, which were held in France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the UK.

The firm commissioned a major research study that examined investment decision-making and governance in pension schemes. Sarah Healey, strategy director for private pensions at the UK government’s Department for Work and Pensions, spoke highly of the report. “Reports like this are a very valuable contribution to the fast-moving world of pensions.”

Aberdeen also produced several thought leadership white papers and its product specialists spoke at many events around the world. Recent research by Greenwich Associates showed that Aberdeen’s clients particularly valued its thought leadership initiatives and white papers. Aberdeen says it likes to have a hands-on approach and to “keep things simple”.

The firm believes that investment needs a long-term view backed by an agile, well-informed, joined-up team approach.