Aberdeen and Pimco drop as biggest fund management brands

Aberdeen Gilbert Martin Gilbert 700x450BlackRock has emerged as the biggest asset manager in Europe as Aberdeen Asset Management dropped out of an influential top 10 list following a year of outflows.

The list, compiled by market research firm Fund Buyer Focus, shows Aberdeen was voted the 13th most popular fund management brand.

Rival BlackRock topped the list for the fifth year in a row. JP Morgan, Fidelity, Franklin Templeton and M&G followed in the list.

The top 10 list of fund management brands was compiled by more than 1,000 fund selectors based on criteria such as adapting to market change, expertise, innovation and stability.

Earlier this month, Aberdeen fell out of the FTSE 100 and was demoted to the FTSE 250. The firm reported its 11th consecutive quarter of net outflows in January.

Overall Aberdeen, which manages more than €2.2tn (£1.7tn) in assets under management, lost £9.1bn in the last three months of 2015 amid its exposure to unloved emerging markets.

Fund Buyer Focus co-chief executive Diana Mackay told Fund Strategy: “The past year hasn’t worked out very well for Aberdeen. Aberdeen has a very large range of funds but fund selectors still perceive it as a emerging market specialist. Emerging market have been out of favour for the last two years and that didn’t play very well for the asset manager.”

Aberdeen was in 10th position in 2014 while its highest position was 9th the year before in the Fund Buyer Focus report.

Mackay says the recent market volatility had an effect on encouraging fund selectors looking “more closely” at big brands.

She adds: “When investor confidence is low, brand naturally becomes more important with investors seeking the comfort and perceived stability of larger, familiar names. The ‘safe houses’, and particularly the brand leader BlackRock, benefited from this trend in extremely choppy markets.

“Also, in some markets, there have been some regulatory effects where fund selectors have been asked on their choices. So there’s been a bit of default positions towards big names.”

On the other hand, bond specialist asset manager Pimco has also lost ground in the list dropping by five places to 17th.

The US-based firm, which lost his founder and star fund manager Bill Gross in 2014, suffered €125bn of outflows last year.

Mackay says the Pimco story is similar to Aberdeen, but this time the losses were linked to the negative performance of bonds over the past 12 months.

She says: “In the second half of last year we’ve seen a move away from the Pimco Income fund for its exposure to bonds. Pimco also have very big funds over a long period of time and a lot of fund selectors felt they were very exposed so they’ve looked at other solutions.

“On the departure of Gross, despite being an old story, it takes time to get over it so it still sits in the minds of fund selectors.”

Top cross-border groups by brand
Rank Group name Position change
1 BlackRock
2 JPMorgan
3 Fidelity
4 Franklin Templeton
5 M&G
6 Schroders
7 Invesco 1
8 Deutsche -1
9 Carmignac Gestion 2
10 Pictet -1

Source: Fund Buyer Focus