Steady growth objective of US manager Eaton Vance in Europe

Selective messaging, selective market targeting and a long term commitment to the region are what US manager Eaton Vance Investment Managers believes will see it emerge as a bigger and better known provider in the European region.

In its home market, the Boston headquartered manager has over 85 years of history backing the brand, which today is known for its fundamental and structured strategies, as well as being a sub-adviser on a number of other funds.

Its international arm has been in London since 2001, and Pepijn Heins, head of Business Development Europe, says his focus is the UK, Benelux – particularly the Netherlands – and the Nordics.

France and Germany are not being ignored, but neither do they fit the core focus of Heins’ day to day work currently. Partly there are local market reasons, such as the rules for KAG structures in Germany. Southern Europe similarly is not a core area of focus currently. There is some business involving Switzerland, especially around private banks, Heins said.

Eaton Vance has a history of launching new strategies, and more recently of acquiring expertise, such as through the 49% stake in Montreal, Canada based Hexavest, which brought with it discretionary management of equity and tactical asset allocation strategies for institutional clients in Canada, the US, Europe and Asia Pacific.

Heins said that the manager was intent on bringing not only more product to European investors, but also more people over from its US headquarters in Boston. This is not only to improve links to European investors, but also to enable certain of its own managers to get closer to the assets they invest in, such as the Eastern European companies in which they have equity holdings.

Looking to types of investors, Heins said that long term savers were a key target in the region. Eaton Vance’s ongoing marketing and communications strategies for improving its visibility in Europe are likely to be slanted towards pension funds and those working in the sector who are responsible for selection of assets and/or underlying funds. The manager sees a good opportunity for low volatility or alternative beta strategies, in a market where financial professionals responsible for managing long term savings and investments are struggling against a tide of record low interest rates and rapidly growing liabilities linked to demographics and other factors. At the same time, should inflation risk arise, then the manager sees advantage in its expertise in floating rate fixed income. Pension investments may also have the advantage of being more ‘sticky’ over time, meaning that there is less risk the money will be drawn out at any point in time by the investor.

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