Jupiter has had its fair share of headlines over the past three years with numerous changes to personnel, several of them at an executive level. While the firm has successfully transitioned from a specialist boutique to a key name in the UK retail market, its focus is now on securing its place as a global asset manager.
As a newbie boutique in 1985, Jupiter was predominantly concerned with investment trusts and private client portfolios. The firm then diversified into institutional fund management, which in turn led to a focus on mutual funds.
Until 2008 Jupiter was mainly known as an equities house, before it set its sights on building up its fixed income offering with the launch of the Strategic Bond fund. The next step was expanding its distribution capabilities, which began in earnest in 2007 following a management buyout from Commerzbank AG, led by then chief executive Edward Bonham Carter.
A pivotal moment in Jupiter expanding its global reach was the appointment of Maarten Slendebroek, who joined Jupiter as distribution and strategy director in September 2012 before becoming chief executive in March 2014 when Bonham Carter stepped aside to be deputy chairman. Jupiter now boasts a presence in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hong Kong and Singapore and its strategy over the past three years has been to filter down to a regional level.
“Maarten knew what would work in each market,” says Nick Ring, global head of distribution. “Previously our strategy for geographical diversification was following our clients if they had people on the ground in other jurisdictions. But recently we have been expanding our client base away from the large banks.”
This year Jupiter is continuing its expansion in Spain and Italy while eyeing new territories, although Ring is reluctant to specify where, only saying: “We will see a measured continuation in our geographical expansion.”
While the UK still represents about 85 per cent of the firm’s assets under management, net flows from outside the UK now account for more than within the UK. “Clearly the 85 per cent will reduce, but we are still planning to expand in the UK. We have big plans to grow in the UK,” Ring says.
These plans include building out the wealth manager proposition, offering a broader range of products and attracting flows. “It is about making sure we know which products are relevant, making sure we have the right alignment of staff to accounts and building in-depth relationships with clients. I am not interested in 300 meetings a month, I am interested in the quality of the meetings,” says Ring.
In addition to Slendebroek’s appointment, there has been a flurry of movement in the upper echelons of Jupiter. In September 2015, John Chatfeild-Roberts relinquished his role as chief investment officer in order to focus on the Merlin multi-manager range and was replaced by his deputy Stephen Pearson.
The same month, Ring took on his role as global head of distribution, having spent eight years at Columbia Threadneedle. Most recently, Philip Johnson stepped down as chief financial officer and was replaced by Charlotte Jones last month, who came from Credit Suisse. Ring says these appointments tie in with the firm’s ambition to create a culture of “collective responsibility” while “trying to get as much value as possible from senior management”.
Meanwhile the fund managers have not been without their fair share of musical chairs. On the equities side Jason Pidcock joined the firm from Newton in November 2015 to run the new Asian Income fund, while Dermot Murphy was promoted to assistant manager on Ben Whitmore’s UK value strategies funds in April.
There was also a series of changes to the fixed income team in April, which saw Harry Richards promoted to assistant manager on the Strategic Bond fund, Hilary Blandy named head of credit research and Katharine Dryer promoted to head of investments for fixed income and multi-asset.
It doesn’t look like things are going to quieten down anytime soon, with at least one more appointment on the horizon this year.
“We are always looking to bring in more talent and we will continue to focus on where the needs of investors are,” Ring says. “In the next three months we will make a hire that will support the UK business.”
Jupiter now has 38 funds in its unit trust range but the firm remains active in the product development space. In September 2015 the firm unveiled the Enhanced Distribution fund for Alastair Gunn and Rhys Petheram, while in March the Asian Income fund was launched for Pidcock.
Ring says: “The Enhanced Distribution fund launched last year. We are seeing nice, steady flows of £1m a day. It is a little racier than the Distribution fund.”
“Product development is obviously an important part of any business. We have a big product suite but there is more we would like to do, for example in the fixed income space. We have good-performing products but there is more we can offer, such as in the investment grade and high-yield space, and in emerging market debt. We would like to build that up but there is not currently the resources available there.”
Ring says the firm is also looking to roll out further offshore versions of its unit trust funds. There are currently 17 funds in Jupiter’s sicav range, and Ring says it is looking to launch another three or four.
On the flipside Jupiter is not shy of streamlining its range. Most recently, in April 2015, the firm merged the Jupiter UK Growth fund with the Undervalued Assets fund.
“It is a programme we continually look at,” Ring says. “We are actively looking at mergers. The industry is not good at managing the life cycle of its products. We are good at that, in terms of closing or merging funds.”
Jupiter has £36bn in assets under management and saw £449m of flows into its retail funds during Q1, which Ring says makes it a top-five player in the UK retail market. He considers Jupiter’s peers to be the likes of Henderson, Invesco Perpetual, Investec, Schroders and Columbia Threadneedle, which he identifies as firms with a strong UK presence that have diversified internationally. However, he adds that being smaller in size gives the firm a “human advantage”.
“We focus on hiring strong, stable fund managers and support them with analysts and resources input. We allow fund managers the discretion to run the investment process as they see fit. There is no house view. Managers manage their portfolios with conviction, and 76 per cent of our funds are first or second quartile over three years.”
It is this fund manager autonomy that attracted Ring to joining Jupiter.
“Jupiter is going to be a real winner going forward,” he says. “There is a polarisation between active and passive funds and if you are going to be successful with active funds then there needs to be conviction and high alpha.
“The best way to achieve that is by allowing individual managers to add value. They are the growth story. I was looking for an environment where the decision making was more dynamic. It was a perfect alignment of the stars when Jupiter came knocking.”