Steen Foldberg (Aberdeen Standard Investments): The best of both worlds
"The best of both worlds following the coming together of Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life Investments under the Aberdeen Standard Investments brand, assets under management in Luxembourg are set to grow” says Steen Foldberg, managing director in Luxembourg and adds “as consequence we need to add talents”.
Can you present Aberdeen Standard Investments in a few words?
With combined assets just under €646.6 billion under management at 30 September 2017 globally, the merger of Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life in August 2017 created the second largest active investment manager in Europe and one of the biggest in the world – Aberdeen Standard Investments. What is unique about Aberdeen Standard Investments in the context of active asset management is that Aberdeen has a strong focus on emerging markets – where 90% of the world GDP growth is. Picking an ETF in the US or Europe is easy, but finding a similar passive solution in emerging markets can prove very tricky: and investors prefer active management because of deep local expertise, the close monitoring and state of the art investment processes. Equally, Standard Life is a well-known top provider in the retirement and pension saving area and servicing our insurance clients and large institutional investors, require highly sophisticated investments solutions, that are operated within strict guidelines and with detailed reporting. We are in a unique position to deliver and cross sell such solutions. Combined, we offer investment solutions across all asset classes aiming to lead the way with innovative investment approaches that can target investors’ specific needs for income, return, risk control or liability management – as well as seeking to provide sources of performance across different market cycles. Our growth is supported by the increasing growth in wealth and the necessity for retirement savings, as people live longer and longer.
“The end of our projects will make us one of the largest asset managers in Luxembourg with a more than €100 billion under management.”
What priorities have you identified for the Luxembourg office?
Luxembourg is central to the newly combined business’s growth strategy and I’ll be looking to make investments in both people and processes. Our recruitment campaign will focus especially in key functions like: Risk, Compliance, Finance, Corporate Secretary and all aspects of Fund Administration. I am a strong believer in diversity. Our team has 14 nationalities with an average age of less than 35 years. Four of our Conducting Officers are women. This makes it a very diversified and dynamic organisation. Beside the implementation of the growth and recruitment plan, we will as become the hub for our European and Worldwide distributors and investors supporting clients in more than 70 countries. A key task is to maintain and further enhance client experience and ensuring that our solutions are offered in line with local and global regulation. The end of our projects will make us one of the largest asset managers in Luxembourg with a more than €100 billion under management. That hopefully will continue to grow, as we win more business and cross sell our wide and expanding offering.
What opportunities and threats do you identify?
Regarding the big picture, I really enjoy working in asset management, as this industry serves our society by investing in companies, thus creating jobs and development. The entire foundation for a well-functioning economic society is closely linked with an effective capital market. Our contribution to helping people save for their retirement is also a social responsibility. While the social pension scheme is exceptional in Luxembourg, this is not the case in many other countries. Our contribution and solutions to help people save and become investors securing their financial objectives or retirement is an important element in a developed world. Regarding threats, Brexit can prompt countries to have a more national focus, but I am optimistic that common sense will prevail. With a sensible Brexit agreement, the UK and London will continue to work with Luxembourg and Europe, at least at a financial level. Finally, technology to me represents a huge opportunity. It allows us to streamline production, reach out to our clients in a more digital way and focus on adding value to our investors and partners. Aberdeen Standard Investments invests heavily to be at the forefront of this transformation.
How do you see the impact on Luxembourg?
Luxembourg as the second largest funds centre in the world will benefit as people continue to invest and with the expertise available here, I think there is a huge potential for further growth not just for Aberdeen Standard Investments.