Investec brings Southern Hemisphere perspective to Italy

Investec’s Italian sales director Marco Orsi has shared his view on how to grow the business in the local market.

Investec Asset Management recently opened an office in Italy and appointed Marco Orsi (pictured), previously at Allianz Global Investors, to spearhead it alongside the supervision of Italian Sales manager Sarah Pastore.
After more than 13 years in the financial sector, Orsi says that leading Investec’s Italian office is “a lifetime opportunity” for him.

Orsi started his career at BNP Paribas, where first took care of the B2B and retail segments of the market and, from 2004 onwards, led operations to set-up the business from scratch in Turkey, Greece, Malta and Cyprus. In 2010, Orsi left BNP Paribas to join Allianz Global Investors, which at the time worked alongside PIMCO on the distribution process.

“Leading Investec’s Italian office is the opportunity of a lifetime for my career and I believe the company has a great potential in the country. The peculiar moment of recession in financial markets obliges us to take more global risks and Investec is already well-known in Italy as that type of global investor.

“Another strong point of the company is that it comes from South Africa and is therefore endemically prepared to act in an environment of rates and currency volatility, as well as of strong correlation to commodities. This makes us stronger than any other developed country’s asset management companies going forward, especially on emerging markets,” Orsi explains.

Investec AM has already registered 10 products and strategies in Italy, putting forward the company’s top expertise such as its emerging market debt and global franchise strategies.

Asked whether he thinks it will be challenging to establish their emerging market focused business in an environment of widespread scepticism on the asset class, Orsi says: “The attitude towards investing in emerging markets has changed. We went from a time where everybody was investing anywhere in the area to a time where more selection is needed. We find current levels of EMD very attractive from a valuation perspective, given yields of 7%.

“More specifically, our preferred region is Latin America which offers very attractive real yields with cheap currencies and proactive central banks, which in our view will succeed in keeping inflationary pressures contained. On the bond side, we are overweight Brazil, Mexico and Chile. Anyways, we have to bear in mind that emerging markets are quicker to recover and turn trends around compared to developed markets thanks to their flexibility. Secondly, Investec was set up in an emerging country and knows how to hold its nerves in times of uncertainty and volatility.”

Starting with AUM of €100m and aiming to reach €250-300m by the end of the year, the Italian office will start its B2B focus in areas such as funds of funds management and unit linked products.
“This choice will allow us to speed up the process and start being active earlier than if started with institutional and retail clients. However, we do not exclude anyone and we will go on to targeting institutional and retail clients later on,” Orsi explains.

Main challenges and objectives
Asked what he thinks will be the biggest challenge ahead for his Italian adventure, Orsi points at the widespread tense situation in global financial markets.

“I’m not worried about our products’ success or about establishing our brand among others in Italy. Everything seems to be well positioned in that respect. What concerns me the most is the tense and relatively uncertain situation of global markets more in general.

“Obviously, such an environment is most detrimental to risky assets and emerging markets, which constitute our core offer. However, growth in developed markets also looks quite fragile and not totally steady,” he says.

Looking at the company’s main objectives for this first year of operations, Orsi says he and Pastore will be looking at increasing the numbers of investors from the B2B end; signing a number of distribution agreements with the country’s major networks, and raising the company’s profile.

“Investec’s DNA allows us to take a long-term approach to investments and to use common sense in making our choices rather than running for the quickest solution. I believe this puts us in the best position to succeed in growing our business in Italy too,” he concludes.


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