switzerlanden
Robeco turns 90 in a fast-changing fund industry

Robeco turns 90 in a fast-changing fund industry

04-12-2019 | Insight

This 4 December, Robeco celebrates its 90th anniversary. As the company that launched Europe’s oldest mutual fund, our history is closely intertwined with the rapid development of the investment industry over the past nine decades. We take a step back and review some of the key events that have shaped our history so far.

  • Jan Sytze  Mosselaar
    Jan Sytze
    Mosselaar
    Portfolio Manager

Speed read

  • From the Great Depression to the digital age
  • Research-based approach since the beginning
  • Pioneer in EM, quant and sustainability

The Rotterdamsch Beleggings Consortium, Robeco for short, was founded in Rotterdam on 4 December 1929. The world has changed dramatically since, but some things have also remained the same. For instance, Robeco is still based in Rotterdam, offering research-driven diversified investment services to small and large investors around the world.

Robeco was introduced only five years after the first American open-end funds were founded in Boston, which marked the start of the modern mutual fund industry. As Europe’s oldest mutual fund, Robeco’s history is therefore closely intertwined with the sector’s rapid expansion over the past nine decades.

From initially being an insignificant part of financial markets in the late 1920s, the global fund industry has developed into the USD 47 trillion behemoth it is today. The story of this boom and of Robeco’s first 90 years of existence can be split into three 30-year subperiods, corresponding to the main stages of our development. 

Stay informed on our latest insights with monthly mail updates
Stay informed on our latest insights with monthly mail updates
Subscribe

1929-1959 Humble beginnings

The journey starts with Robeco’s humble beginnings, between 1929 and 1959. This period was marked by the aftermath of the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression of the 1930s. Merely two years after its introduction, Robeco had lost than half of its initial startup capital. Early investors had to wait decades before their initial investment recovered.

The consortium grew steadily, investing in both stocks and bonds globally, even in emerging markets

Nevertheless, the consortium grew steadily, investing in both stocks and bonds globally, even in emerging markets like Peru, Chile and Argentina. At the time, the investment industry was still a sleepy corner of the financial world. Portfolio managers were conservative, slowly moving their investments, with the Great Depression still fresh in their minds.

1959-1989 The big transformation

1959 was a milestone year for Robeco, as the first listing on a stock exchange outside of the Netherlands was established, in Paris. Many international listings would follow, which, together with a 20-for-1 stock split in the same year, sparked the explosive growth that Robeco experienced in the 1960s, helped by stellar investment results.

Robeco would then grow to be a near-monopolist in the Netherlands and the largest fund house in Europe in the 1970s. Only in the 1980s did competition begin to intensify, as large retail banks started to offer their own funds to their clients. Despite that, Robeco still remained, by far, the most dominant player in the Netherlands.

In the meantime, the mutual fund industry also underwent a large transformation in the 1960s, as a result of three major developments. First, in the so-called Go-Go years, conservative managers were overruled by young, fast-talking, heavily-trading portfolio managers, who built concentrated high-risk portfolios that exhibited a high turnover. 

Second, in Chicago, a group of academics would transform finance into an academic discipline, developing models and performance measurement techniques that are still widely used. Finally, the introduction of the MSCI World Index in 1969 and the first passive strategies in the 1970s sparked the rise of indices and passive investing.

After the bear market of the 1970s, in which money market funds became very popular, the bull market of the 1980s brought large growth to the fund industry.

1989-2019: From Berlin Wall to Big Data

In November 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, heralding the new wave of globalization of the nineties. For Robeco, the 1990s marked the beginning of an intense cooperation with the Dutch Rabobank. This led to a new wave of growth for Robeco and culminated with Rabobank’s full ownership of Robeco in 2001. 

Computerization, better and faster access to large datasets and to information transformed the industry

Meanwhile, with the opening up of the East, in particular China, market forces changed drastically. And there were other crucial disruptions for the fund industry, such as the digital revolution. Computerization, better and faster access to large datasets and to information also transformed the industry.

Since 2000, also through international acquisitions, Robeco has become more and more the international asset manager it is today. Moreover, the success of Robeco’s quantitative strategies and the company’s strength in the area of sustainable investing gave Robeco two new focus areas where it now is considered to be world class.

Subjects related to this article are:
Logo

Disclaimer Robeco Switzerland Ltd.

The information contained on these pages is for marketing purposes and solely intended for Qualified Investors in accordance with the Swiss Collective Investment Schemes Act of 23 June 2006 (“CISA”) domiciled in Switzerland, Professional Clients in accordance with Annex II of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (“MiFID II”) domiciled in the European Union und European Economic Area with a license to distribute / promote financial instruments in such capacity or herewith requesting respective information on products and services in their capacity as Professional Clients. 

The Funds are domiciled in Luxembourg and The Netherlands. ACOLIN Fund Services AG, postal address: Affolternstrasse 56, 8050 Zürich, acts as the Swiss representative of the Fund(s). UBS Switzerland AG, Bahnhofstrasse 45, 8001 Zurich, postal address: Europastrasse 2, P.O. Box, CH-8152 Opfikon, acts as the Swiss paying agent. The prospectus, the Key Investor Information Documents (KIIDs), the articles of association, the annual and semi-annual reports of the Fund(s) may be obtained, on simple request and free of charge, at the office of the Swiss representative ACOLIN Fund Services AG. The prospectuses are also available via the website www.robeco.ch. Some funds about which information is shown on these pages may fall outside the scope of the Swiss Collective Investment Schemes Act of 26 June 2006 (“CISA”) and therefore do not (need to) have a license from or registration with the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA). 

Some funds about which information is shown on this website may not be available in your domicile country. Please check the registration status in your respective domicile country. To view the RobecoSwitzerland Ltd. products that are registered/available in your country, please go to the respective Fund Selector, which can be found on this website and select your country of domicile. 

Neither information nor any opinion expressed on this website constitutes a solicitation, an offer or a recommendation to buy, sell or dispose of any investment, to engage in any other transaction or to provide any investment advice or service. An investment in a Robeco Switzerland Ltd. product should only be made after reading the related legal documents such as management regulations, prospectuses, annual and semi-annual reports. 

By clicking “I agree” you confirm that you/the company you represent falls under one of the above-mentioned categories of addressees and that you have read, understood and accept the terms of use for this website.

I Disagree