Natixis Global AM upbeat, but warns against complacency

Natixis Global AM, the Paris-based financial services group encompassing 20 asset management affiliates with some €543.9bn under management, has turned in a strong year. But CEO John Hailer warns against complacency amongst fund investors or providers.

“The three best markets for us this past year – the US, the UK and Japan, were written off 12 months ago. But investors have come back because they need yield, and also because they see they have to take more responsibility for ensuring they have an income in retirement.”

He says firms have to be ready to explore opportunities which are not the consensus view. “You hear now that the US market is the place to be,” he adds. “But we still have to be careful. The US still has to work out its sovereign debt issues and how to get jobs back. Yes, there were 227,000 jobs created last month, but at that rate it will take 13 years to get back to pre-crisis levels. The big banks are still having a tough time, the mortgage market still needs cleaning up.”

The same meticulous approach is needed for Europe, he adds. The debt crisis clouded the investment outlook, but Germany and Italy had a “positive year” in 2010-2011 and there has been strong growth for Natixis in Scandinavia and Switzerland. In the UK, the group has managed 85% growth in dollar terms since 2008.

He puts those results down to a portfolio approach increasingly in demand among investors tired of broken promises in the wider market. Hailer is adamant that investors – whether a retail financial advisor, an institutional broker or a pension fund trustee — need to be helped to understand risk and volatility better.

“Over the last 25 years there crept in the notion that risk was ‘missing out on the upside’. It is not. It is the real risk of losing the principal invested. People want to keep what they have earned and saved for. They have little choice but to invest, to provide for their retirement. But the old idea of never risking your capital has come back. We have to educate, educate, educate.”

Channels to reach end-investors proliferate, with internet applications and social media, but Hailer says direct contact in person is still vital. “It is tough for anyone to do this kind of thing – making investment decisions — on their own. You need someone skilled, an advisor you can trust to guide you. That is the essence and the future of the industry.” 

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