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Cautious pioneers – The Dutch approach

16-10-2015 | UK | Insight

Robeco is growing its London office to be able to better serve the UK market.

The Dutch asset manager has long been recognized as a pioneer of both quantitative and sustainability investing, using research-driven strategies to maximize returns while also lowering risk. This has allowed Robeco to earn a reputation as the ‘cautious pioneers’, with a suite of products and strategies that enable investors to tap into new areas without compromising on risk.

While the Rotterdam-based company has served UK investors for many years, this is the first time that a bespoke team has been set up to focus on serving institutional investors.

Mark Barry, a Briton with extensive experience of the UK institutional investment industry, was appointed in September 2015 as country head and Head of Institutional Business for Robeco UK. Based in Robeco’s new London office, he will work with existing clients as well as engage with the wider investment community.

“Robeco coming to the UK is about bringing a suite of capabilities and skill sets to help clients build more sustainable, long-term portfolios to achieve their objectives,” says Barry. “A significant challenge we have in the UK, and globally, is saving effectively for retirement. Building and managing portfolios to generate required returns, in a risk and cost controlled manner, in a low-return environment is increasingly hard. So every basis point counts.”

“Institutional investors have become much more discerning in everything that they do, and with whom they invest. They’re looking more for long-term partnerships and coming to the realization that ‘get-rich-slow' strategies are a more effective route to achieving their goals than strategies which may over promise, but often under deliver. So there is definitely a space in the UK now for Robeco’s ‘cautiously pioneering’ mentality of using long-term, highly innovative sustainable investment strategies. These have been built on the bedrock that founded Robeco in 1929 and still stands today: using research-based, tried and tested strategies to deliver long-term results.”

Barry plans to build on the pillars that underpin Robeco’s investment strategy: using quantitative and sustainability techniques; believing strongly in innovation; and refusing to risk client money until a strategy has been tried and tested. Robeco was also one of the pioneers of emerging market investing, buying assets in Peru in 1930.

“So for the UK market, it will be about utilizing Robeco’s quant capability, its sustainable view and range of products to build long-term relationships with clients.” says Barry. “It’s about achieving non-heroic but non-boring, well-researched, high-quality, dependable returns. It’s about the relevance of factor investing - and Robeco wrote the book on this. It is truly about leveraging the company’s heritage as cautious pioneers. We aim to take all these core capabilities and bring these into relevant solutions for pension funds and institutional investors in the UK.”

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