CSAM builds on multi-asset strength

Michael Krinner of Credit Suisse Asset Management’s multi-asset team tells how active managers have to fight for their place in his clients’ portfolios.

The growth of multi-asset strategies since the onset of the financial crisis has clearly been welcomed by investors, who put €7.3bn worth of new business into such mandates run from Europe last year.

This made multi-asset the only one of six individual fund strategies tracked by Lipper to win more new business than it lost, in a year when the industry overall suffered €70.5bn net redemptions.

It is not completely clear, however, whether fund managers might welcome this popularity quite as much. Multi-asset units typically have the flexibility to bypass active fund managers, and select instead passive products such as ETFs, or invest directly in markets.

The CHF99.4bn multi-asset class solutions (MACS) business at Credit Suisse Asset Management (CSAM) has grown to be one of Europe’s largest, and it gives flexibility on invest paths to its 340 investment professionals.

MACS have grown to represent about one quarter of CSAM’s total assets under management. The c ompany’s MACS have more than 100 different investor profiles and six reference currencies.

Michael Krinner is head of MACS global private mandates – steward to CHF36bn of MACS monies. He believes allowing direct, active and passive fund  investments is important for MACS managers and, just as importantly, for their end clients.

“It is all about catering to the different needs of our different clients,” he says. “We have received feedback over the past couple of years that some clients really like direct investments in markets; while others believe there can be value added through manager selection.

But, we have also seen an increasing number of reports that the average fund manager is not adding value – so we can also use ETFs.”

Speaking with Krinner, it is clear fund managers do not receive an ‘easy ride’ to selection by Credit Suisse’s MACS unit. And nor should they. After all, multi-asset managers’ primary responsibility is to their clients, not to fund managers.

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