Aberdeen Shifts Skills for U.S. Marketing Push

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Aberdeen Asset Management, which is reaching the end of its integration with Deutsche Asset Management, is turning to the U.S. to develop investment teams and beef up its marketing effort.

Aberdeen has shifted its U.S. equities team to the Philadelphia office inherited from Deutsche and added three managers to make a team of six. It has replaced the fixed-income high-yield team that stayed with Deutsche by training managers and adding more. Aberdeen's New York sales staff have also moved to Philadelphia and expanded, adding eight support staff.

Anne Richards, chief investment officer at Aberdeen said: "We are looking at taking skills developed in the UK and moving them to the U.S. There we have investment grade bonds, but in the UK we have the range of fixed-income products - high yield, emerging markets and so on. We have never really taken it to the U.S. market or combined it with the U.S. business."

Richards said the U.S. market was changing. "Core-plus type mandates and liability-driven investment are showing the first signs of interest. We are seeing the teams working together more. We want to bring together the skills in a way they haven't been before."

One consultant said Aberdeen had changed its tactics on U.S. high yield: "When it first did the deal it sold this along the lines of saying, 'we will increase the remit of the investment analysts to cover high yield.' Now it has been hiring and building a dedicated high-yield resource. However it does it, Aberdeen, like all active bond managers, needs to have as broad a coverage as possible across the global and quality spectrums in credit."

Richards said: "There is not a large book of business in continental Europe from the Deutsche acquisition. We have worked at bringing our fixed-income products to our European clients on the equities or property side and we are starting to see the first fruits of that."

Richards said the acquisition had enabled Aberdeen to take products to new markets but did not rule out doing deals to extend its global distribution reach. She said: "We are interested in small deals in some areas. For example, if something were to come up in Africa, particularly South Africa, we don't have any distribution there. We are very internationally focused. It would be distribution capability rather than investment management."

Aberdeen sees potential in interest shown by clients in broad, strategic asset allocation mandates on a target-return basis, known as new balanced. Its reasoning is that not all institutional clients have the size or interest in liability-driven investment approaches or specialist equity mandates.

Richards said: "We are at the beginning of this with a few clients who have gone down the route or who are actively considering it. It's certainly dwarfed by the interest in LDI.

"We have about 4 billion ($7.45 million) in LDI and are well shy of that in new balanced. It's not necessarily for everybody - the main interest might be from smaller schemes that do not have the resources to manage a raft of managers."

Aberdeen moved its first set of Deutsche portfolios to its BNP Paribas outsourcing platform last month, representing significant assets, according to Richards. She expects to have all the assets transferred by the end of the year.

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