Experienced hands and fresh minds: the Aberdeen way

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With €457bn AUM and offices in 18 cities across the continent, Aberdeen Asset Management has been shaping its business in Europe since 1983.

With offices spanning Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Budapest, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Geneva, Helsinki, Jersey, London, Luxembourg, Madrid, Milan, Oslo, Paris, Stockholm and Zurich, Aberdeen is one of the most prevalent, and biggest, players in the asset management space in Europe.

From its beginning the company has taken pride in having valued a culture of openness, mutual dependency and collective purpose, explains John Brett, global head of Distribution.

“We organise our investment managers in teams, so every one of them has a voice.

“And by following investment processes that are clear, systematic and where all information is shared, we think this leads to better outcomes than if a star fund manager were in charge.

“We strongly believe that the combination of experienced hands and fresh minds invigorates our thinking and can lead to better performance. That’s true in every aspect of our business – not just our investment teams,” he says.

With Scottish roots, comes a natural degree of scepticism that makes Aberdeen’s managers steer clear from what markets simply say and pushes them to dig further, according to Brett.

“Our skill as investment managers lies in our willingness to ask questions, to buck consensus if need be and do our own research to arrive at clear judgements. This attitude informs how we approach our business overall. We encourage everyone to think afresh and not to do something just because ‘that’s the way it has always been done’,” Brett explains.

The €457bn AUM is at present split between Aberdeen Solutions (multi-asset, alternatives and quantitative) (38.7%), equities (32.9%), fixed income (22.3%), and a remaining 6.1% in property.

Looking back at the company’s history and its path to gain its current position in the asset management industry globally, Brett says that the key to success has been “a mix of organic growth and selective acquisitions.”

“Without one we couldn’t have done the other. The acquisitions of Aitken Hume in 1988 which brought Hugh Young, our global head of Equities, Murray Johnstone in 2000 and Edinburgh Fund Managers in 2003 played a key role in bringing people in to help build our highly regarded equity capabilities: Asia Pacific, emerging markets and global equities.”

“However, they came in and worked with existing Aberdeen people to develop our fundamental long-term investment approach. Furthermore the growth in assets under management of these three strategies – combined over €130bn – has been largely organic.”

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