Quoted on camera: what seven investment bosses revealed to us

The heads of providers, platforms and asset management firms have been in our studio this year. Ollie Smith finds out what they said about the hottest issues

Andy Bell, chief executive, AJ Bell

On other firms replatforming

‘I have sympathy because we had our challenges when we did our replatforming. It’s good that it was a long time ago.

‘It probably took us a full 18 months before we really started seeing the benefits in terms of improved operational margins and cost savings. But I would say advisers need to expect six months of teething problems. I think it is just an industry challenge.’

Andy Bell, chief executive, AJ Bell

On other firms replatforming

‘I have sympathy because we had our challenges when we did our replatforming. It’s good that it was a long time ago.

‘It probably took us a full 18 months before we really started seeing the benefits in terms of improved operational margins and cost savings. But I would say advisers need to expect six months of teething problems. I think it is just an industry challenge.’

Maarten Slendebroek, chief executive, Jupiter Asset Management

On fund managers demonstrating value for money

‘Very simply, if you cannot demonstrate that you deliver value for money in your moral contract with your customer, you’ll lose that customer. And I can go around all our companies and point out where we didn’t live up to that promise.

‘I think the regulator is confused about the timelines. Our customers are far more loyal than the regulator can imagine.’

Sean Hagerty, European managing director, Vanguard Asset Management

On active versus passive

‘The brutal fact is there is this passive beta alternative that says the active piece of the industry needs to demonstrate value above that, and that has to be empirically demonstrated. But the evidence is the value added over just basic beta isn’t there.

‘Our evaluation is there actually is skill in investment managers and the difference between beating the index fund, or not, is price.’

Hendrik du Toit, chief executive, Investec Asset Management

On the asset management industry’s reputation

‘Some of the questions in both the Mifid process and the [FCA’s] market study were good questions, and we should give the regulator credit. But what’s the emphasis?

‘If you read some publications – not Citywire – particularly on a Monday morning, you’d think we were a criminal enterprise. The industry has made mistakes. But the industry can always improve.’

Richard Buxton, chief executive, Old Mutual Global Investors

On ethical and sustainable investing

‘I’ve been challenged recently for holding shares in a company where Martin [Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen Standard Investments] is a non-executive director.

‘There is corruption, which is a huge issue globally. I have been asked how I can sleep at night owning these shares. I actually don’t have an answer. There are structures, there are offshore companies, and there’s money changing hands. That’s tricky.’

Rob Fairbairn, senior managing director, BlackRock

On gender diversity in high-ranking positions

‘The profit and loss-controlling individuals is an area we have much more power to do something about. [Citywire] should hold itself to account for the next [CEO Tapes discussion] and not have it if there aren’t any women.

‘If not, all people are going to see is a bunch of white dudes sitting here, talking about an industry and the future. I think we have to do a better job.’

 

Keith Skeoch, chief executive, Standard Life Aberdeen

On competitors’ replatforming problems

‘When working with a technology supplier, it is really important to share your strategic direction and develop together. We were an early adopter of FNZ, we’re a big chunk of its business in the UK and there is a sense of partnership. We know what we need to do, and we work together to develop that.

‘It is never just about plug and play. If what you want to do is just take a technology platform and plug it into something, that’s where problems [occur].’

 

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