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Chief Executive Officer of the Year
Fiona Frick - Unigestion
Frick, who stepped up from head of equities at Unigestion to chief executive in 2011, has put the Swiss firm very much on the map in the UK in the past few years, amid wider international expansion. Unfazed by Brexit, in July the firm followed through on plans to double its London headcount to 40 and moved into larger premises near Bond Street. It recruited a new team of institutional alternatives salespeople in May, and plans to build private-debt capabilities in the UK too. It has added new UK clients in the form of the North East Scotland and Clwyd pension funds, which invested in its latest private equity fund earlier this year, and the Avon Pension Fund, which hired the Swiss firm for its emerging-markets capabilities in 2014. With private-sector fund Railpen, it worked to co-create two new low-cost smart-beta equity funds. The firm has recorded strong performance in more traditional stockpicking too – its flagship European stock fund outperformed the benchmark by almost 4 percentage points a year in the past decade, putting it among the top 6% of funds in its peer group.
Sean Healey - Affiliated Managers Group
Healey, who is a California native but based in London for about half the year, has been with Affiliated Managers Group since 1995, when it was a three-person startup with a single investment in one fund manager with less than $1 billion under management. With a model of acquiring majority stakes in boutique managers and offering them distribution and operations support, it now has 32 of them, including UK retail house Artemis, US quant managers AQR, emerging-markets specialists Trilogy Global Advisors and Leda Braga’s hedge fund Systematica Investments – a stake acquired from BlueCrest Capital Management in November. In June, AMG acquired a portfolio of stakes in five further asset managers from Goldman Sachs’ Petershill private equity fund – including Petershill’s first investment, in David Harding’s Winton Capital Management. The deal takes the total assets under management of AMG’s affiliates to $700 billion.
Saker Nusseibeh - Hermes Investment Management
2015 was the year that Hermes returned to profitability for the first time since 2008, making £14.6 million, up from a £10.5 million loss the year before. It was also the first year that the majority of the firm’s revenues did not come from its owner, the BT Pension Scheme. Both results mark successes for Hermes’ five-year turnaround plan, a journey begun in 2011. Nusseibeh took over as chief executive the following year, and despite a genial and collegiate image he has been unafraid to cut things that are not working for the firm. Hermes’ activist funds were sold to boutique RWC in 2012 and a 2014 review led to the closure of its Boston office because it “did not fit with the plan”. Nusseibeh has redeployed savings from these closures into developing a new credit capability, and wants fees from external clients to account for 55% of revenues by 2018. 100% of the group’s funds outperformed their benchmarks during the three years to December 31.
Yves Perrier - Amundi
Perrier is the key architect of Amundi, the asset manager created through a merger of the funds arms of Credit Agricole and Societe Generale in 2010, and led the firm through its November 2015 stock market listing; the largest IPO on Euronext in 10 years. During his tenure the firm’s assets under management have grown from €650 billion to €987 billion, with a record €80 billion of net inflows in 2015 – putting it within touching distance of Perrier’s target of €1 trillion by end-2016. The firm is now looking to expand in ETFs and smart beta and has established a new private-debt and infrastructure unit, set up in November 2014. Perrier prefers organic growth, but has swooped for bolt-on acquisitions, such as US fixed-income shop Smith Breeden in 2013, the asset management arm of Austrian lender Bawag in January 2015, and earlier this year, the Irish firm Kleinwort Benson Investors.
Richard Wilson - BMO Global Asset Management
Wilson, who rose from head of European equities at F&C to become chief executive in 2013, was hailed by the activist investor Edward Bramson, who acquired the company in 2011, as having been “critical” to its turnaround. Wilson then led F&C through its 2014 takeover by BMO Global Asset Management of Canada, and became European head of the firm. He led initiatives to expand its sales presence, opening offices in Stockholm, Milan, Munich and Madrid, and adding resources to its Swiss and German distribution teams. The European business (the former F&C) recorded a 19% rise in net inflows in the 12 months to October 31, to £1.8 billion, though overall assets dropped by £14.7 billion, to £68.9 billion, thanks to money withdrawn by F&C’s former owners Friends Life, and other clients. The business also launched a European range of ETFs in late 2015, building on its Canadian range. In June this year, Wilson succeeded co-chief executives Barry McInerney and Rajiv Silgardo as the global chief executive and chief investment officer of BMO Global Asset Management.