Global reach protects Santander

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Santander Asset Management’s head of fund selection identifies the advantages of being a global company.

Santander Asset Management is almost unique among Spanish financial sector firms, finding itself insulated from the current negative macro outlook facing the country. Its parent, the Santander banking group, has extensive interests in South and Central America, regions pretty much unaffected by the eurozone credit crisis.

José María Martínez-Sanjuán (pictured), head of fund selection, says: “As we are providing solutions for the group across the globe, we are not much affected by the macro situation of a single country. It is the global picture that matters and, in this sense, we see a more cautious stance in our internal clients’ demands.”

In February last year, Santander Asset Management launched a multi-manager team at the group’s headquarters in Madrid. Martínez-Sanjuán was appointed to lead a team of seven analysts, divided between the Madrid and London offices. Each analyst is responsible for a specific asset class

An economist by profession, Martínez-Sanjuán joined the Santander group in 2006 through Banif, Santander’s private banking subsidiary in Spain. There he worked as head of fund selection and alternative investments, after a career spent working at Barclays, Citigroup, Caja Madrid and Banco Urquijo.

Best analysis

“As both the team and the project are new, everything started from scratch,” Martínez-Sanjuán says. “Our goal is to provide the various units of the group the best-possible analysis and selection of third-party funds. We aim to adapt to their needs, which vary according to the unit in question, distributors or asset managers.”

Negative market sentiment, first in Europe generally and now in Spain, is affecting the asset management industry as a whole, and has affected risk appetite. Data from Inverco, the Spanish association of collective investment schemes and pension funds, suggests “the funds that have attracted more inflows in April in Spain have been capital guaranteed and fixed income”, he says.

Santander AM finds new investment opportunities from a number of sources.

“As one of the leaders in open architecture, we have direct and deep access to the market. We also have contracted well-known databases like Lipper, Morningstar and Bloomberg, and we rely on Allfunds, one of the largest third-party funds consultants,” Martínez-Sanjuán says.

Santander selects according to a number of criteria. It values managers’ past performance; the capacity to generate ideas that will repeat previous success; the quality of the portfolio construction process, as well as implementation; the commitment of the management team and alignment with the future results of their management.

In terms of risk control, Martínez-Sanjuán says: “We look for managers who have invested extensively in the risk-control technologies, and who have dedicated human resources for this purpose. We also rely on Santander’s own risk and compliance department for an independent assessment of the funds we select. This unit provides in-depth operational due diligence covering a broad range of metrics.”

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