1929: Laying the Foundations

1929: Laying the Foundations

Just weeks after the Wall Street Crash, seven Rotterdam businessmen formed a syndicate to invest peoples’ savings and manage money collectively. They named it the Rotterdamsch Beleggings Consortium, later shortened to Robeco. They thought stocks had hit at a low point, but due to the Great Depression, they lost half their money in the first two years. However, they persevered, laying the foundations for the modern Robeco.

1930s: Creating a global reach

Robeco’s first director, Wim Rauwenhoff, attached great value to research, striving for a scientific approach to investing. The founders also believed in global reach, buying stocks in Peru as early as 1930 and expanding into Europe, North America and what was then the Dutch colonies, before listing on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange in 1938.
Every investment strategy should be research-driven
Every investment strategy should be research-driven
Wim Rauwenhoff, Robeco's first director (from 1933 to 1960)
1940s: Emerging from war

1940s: Emerging from war

During World War II, more than half the portfolio was safely invested in the US, and between 1941 and 1946, Robeco’s assets almost doubled in size. The wartime period also saw Robeco further develop its scientific approach to investing, including a partnership with what became the world-leading Erasmus University in Rotterdam. This dedication to research eventually led to pioneering work in quantitative and sustainability investing.
1950s: Making investing accessible

1950s: Making investing accessible

The 1950s saw further innovation, introducing a share-saving system in 1953 that allowed people on lower incomes to buy Robeco shares. In 1956, Robeco and Rotterdam insurer De Waerdye jointly created the world’s first unit-linked life insurance. And as Europe gradually recovered from war, Robeco listed on its first foreign stock market, Paris, in 1959.
1960s: Swinging ahead overseas

1960s: Swinging ahead overseas

In the ‘Swinging Sixties’, further overseas expansion continued with listings for Robeco on the stock markets in Brussels in 1960 and London in 1962, along with several other European financial centers. In 1963, Robeco became the first European company to enter the Japanese stock market. Two years later, a second investment company, Rolinco, was founded for investors more interested in capital growth than in taxable dividends.

1970s: From bonds to new businesses

Innovation and diversification continued apace, with the establishment of Rorento, Robeco’s first bond fund, as an antidote to the oil crisis which saw share values plummet in 1973. Diversification also took place in a different vein after the Ford Foundation asked Robeco to run part of its portfolio, marking the start of the institutional asset management activities which now account for roughly 50% of assets under management. The 1970s also saw a string of mergers in which Robeco took over many of its main rivals to become the largest fund provider in Europe. Geographical expansion also continued unabated, opening new offices in France, Luxembourg and Switzerland, and listing on stock markets in Hong Kong and Tokyo.
1980s: Turning turmoil into triumph

1980s: Turning turmoil into triumph

Robeco’s experience of the first great stock market crash came good when the second occurred in October 1987, when by a strange quirk of fate it had just developed a crash policy. Minimizing risk through diversification averted panic behavior and led to a milder downfall in assets values compared to that of the Dow Jones.
1990s: Enter quant and sustainability

1990s: Enter quant and sustainability

The 1990s was a key development period in which Robeco pioneered the use of quantitative and sustainability investing, eventually becoming a world leader in both fields. The first quant strategy was launched in 1994, followed by the first sustainable product, the ‘Groencertificaten’ (Green Certificate), created in conjunction with new parent company Rabobank in 1995. Robeco later launched the first sustainable equities fund in the Netherlands.

2000s: New millennium, new milestones

The new millennium brought its own milestones for Robeco, with the US initially the focus of expansion as Harbor Capital Advisors and Boston Partners Asset Management joined the growing family. By the early 21st century, total assets under management broke through the EUR 100 billion barrier. Meanwhile, international expansion continued as offices were opened in the Middle East, Europe and Asia, where a joint venture with Canara first tapped the vast Indian market. Robeco’s sustainability reach solidified with the purchase of Zurich-based Sustainable Asset Management, later rebranded as RobecoSAM, and the integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into Robeco’s investment processes. In the pensions arena, Swiss group Corestone Investment Managers was established in 2007.
2013: Japan’s ORIX buys Robeco

2013: Japan’s ORIX buys Robeco

Robeco began an exciting new chapter when the Japanese financial services group ORIX acquired 90.01 % of the company from Rabobank. ORIX sees Robeco as the primary platform for expanding its asset-management business globally, as it moves from an asset-based business towards more fee-based operations. For Robeco, the deal meant becoming part of a far bigger international company with a solid reputation, a balanced funding structure and a long-term view.
2016: fit for the future

2016: fit for the future

ORIX acquired the remaining 9.99% of shares in Robeco and changed the organizational structure to create a holding company called Robeco Group, under which a group of separate asset managers operate autonomously. The asset manager Robeco has its own supervisory board and executive management. It still has its headquarters in Rotterdam, preserving the company's heritage.