As we all know, the asset management industry has undergone significant changes in recent years and it is becoming increasingly difficult to invest profitably while respecting investors’ most fundamental values.
We are facing an increasingly complex environment, where finding profitability in the asset management business is not an easy task. The environment of economic slowdown, together with low interest rates and an increasingly demanding regulatory framework, is penalising the margins of the entities that find it more difficult to find profitable clients.
Despite the above, the volume of assets under management and the number of investors continues to grow, reflecting the growing need for investors to channel their savings through investment, motivated, among other reasons, by a greater financial culture and more financial information. Now, this increase in managed assets does not have to translate into higher returns for financial institutions.
With the arrival of MIFID II and the consequent increase in costs, situations arise where small estates are not profitable for many entities, which penalises the investor’s opportunity to access good products. They end up being less well served and led to more expensive and less interesting products such as funds of funds.
In this respect, when investing, it is very important to consider the freedom and independence of financial entities in their decision-making. In other words, investors should always be able to choose the product that best suits their risk profile, allocating the assets they deem appropriate without having to meet a minimum investment requirement (the result, among other reasons, of rising costs). Investors will consequently never find themselves tied or investing a high percentage of their estate because this condition is the only way to access an attractive product.
With more and more retail investors, entities must promote values such as honesty and transparency. Nowadays it is not as common as it seems to find entities that recommend their best products to all their clients, adapting to the financial objectives of each of them regardless of their size (institutional, large client, retail, etc.) In this regard the sincerity with which entities highlight the risks of their products, commissions (including indirect), as well as the amount of investment recommended, is significant.
From all of the above, more often than not, there is a clear conflict between the investor’s needs and the objectives of raising funds for financial institutions. Trying to sell the entity’s own products, demanding to grow the assets managed each year, or implementing aggressive cross-selling strategies (insurance, mortgages, accounts, etc.) are just some examples of divergence between the investor’s and entity’s interests. All of the above means that investors may lose confidence in the different actors in the world of investment (banks, managers, brokers, etc.) and their products, with this being fundamental for the growth of the real economy.
Currently, around 80% of the financial equity in Spain is in the hands of these types of entities, which business model focuses in most cases on commercial strategies for distributing their own products and growth of their assets under management
Likewise, these entities are not the players that obtain the best results in the long term. As shown in the following chart, managers or independent entities usually obtain better returns, by focusing their investments on equities that, as has been historically proven, continue to be the most profitable type of asset in the long term, without contaminating their investments by commercial incentives, and focusing efforts purely on achieving results as the only strategy for sustained growth.
As a member of Cobas Asset Management, I am very proud to be part of a team that respects the fundamental values of investors such as honesty, independence and transparency. It is difficult to find entities that care more for the investor than for their own interest and business growth. Our commercial objective has always been to provide the best service. Consequently, at Cobas we will continue acting with the integrity and principles that our unitholders deserve. We shall always look for what is best for them, respecting their interests, and even encouraging them not to invest if we believe they don’t have a value profile and hence will not understand our long term value investment strategy.
They say that values are a company’s pillars and, therefore, not only do they need to be defined, but they also need to be alive and in continuous development. Values represent how we do things and I am convinced that all of this contributes to the successful development of the company and all related parties such as unitholders and employees.
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