Pictet Asset Services’ commitment to UK clients
Global Investor spoke with Rob Lowe, Market Head at Pictet, regarding the group’s remarkable journey and achievements in establishing a strong presence in both the UK and diverse European markets. This discussion encompasses pivotal growth drivers, forward-looking expectations, Pictet’s sustainable initiatives, tailoring services to accommodate regional nuances, the harmonisation of core values with growth pursuits, and the spotlighting of significant milestones and success anecdotes from their expansive venture.
This article is part of the 2023 Autumn Magazine, which can be accessed here.
How has Pictet’s journey in the UK market evolved over the years, and what were the key factors that contributed to your development and successful expansion given the highly competitive and diverse nature of the market?
Pictet Asset Services has enjoyed relationships with UK-based clients for nearly 30 years. Testament to the nature of the client partnerships we build, the first 2 UK-based managers we onboarded in 1995 remain keystone clients today.
As an independent group, Pictet’s guiding principles have always allowed for a differentiating proposition, focused on long-term thinking and an entrepreneurial mindset. This translates to a peopleoriented culture enabling our relationship managers to build an often personal rapport with clients who themselves have a vested interest in successful collaboration.
Our credibility has also been a key protagonist to our success over the last few decades but it’s really the last 5 years or so that our core beliefs have become key buying criteria for the market as a whole. This is especially true for mid-tier managers seeking a flexible and boutique one-stop-shopoffering for their business.
A key trend we have observed is the hybridisation of client types, for example traditional wealth managers have turned to unitised or pooled fund vehicles to gain economies of scale for their underlying investors.
The reverse is also true where segregated mandates or separately managed accounts (SMAs) are offered to key investors seeking further customisation from their fund manager. In response to this trend we have hired and trained our relationship management teams who provide multi-segment expertise to clients as their business evolves.
There are lots of talented managers here in the UK and we see a big opportunity in this market. We have positioned ourselves as a credible alternative for managers reducing counterparty risk and seeking the best partner for the clients.
We are focused on long-term, sustained growth rather than shortterm trends. We have the critical size to be credible and to be able to invest in the platform, technology and people but we are still small enough to remain agile and be able to listen to our clients.
Sustainability and responsible investing have become increasingly important for investors and businesses alike. How has Pictet incorporated sustainability initiatives in its expansion plans in the UK?
As a group, ‘responsibility’ is one of our guiding principles. Thanks to the foresight of our investment colleagues, Pictet Asset Management has been at the forefront of responsible investing; in 2000 we launched the Water fund, not only the first but today the largest in its sector. Among other such products our Timber fund was open to investors from 2008.
From an Asset Services perspective, we are proud to partner with clients who are transforming the investment landscape directly. A few years ago we established a dedicated ESG reporting suite for fund managers wishing to embrace Article 8 or 9 ESG standards.
Our online tool provides decision makers with assessment guides to better define their requirements and reporting needs as this landscape evolves and we also advise on how they can comply with the regulations.
Each country in Europe has its unique cultural, economic, and regulatory characteristics. How does Pictet tailor its services and offerings to meet the specific needs and preferences of its UKbased clients?
Whilst we have catered to UK clients for decades, 2017 was the right time to recognise the market’s continued importance by committing to an Asset Services presence in the UK.
We now have a team of 6 client servicing experts who support local relationships, which has been a resounding success by enabling proximity to decision makers. This was a logical progression to our own group-wide ambitions having already established strong Asset Management and Wealth Management businesses in London.
With this in mind, there are 3 important considerations as we continue to tailor our services: The first is the increasing desire of Independent Asset Managers wishing to book UK-domiciled clients directly in the UK. Not only is this driven by client repatriation, it also vindicates our local value proposition which aligns well to this important client segment.
The second is a reflection of the Brexit decision; many managers have had to resource themselves effectively to manage clients and products in continental Europe. Pictet is well positioned to offer the flexibility and optionality managers need by offering 6 overseas booking centres with local expertise, respecting the cultural nuances this entails. I work closely with my European and Swiss counterparts at executive level to ensure clients needs are being effectively shared cross-jurisdiction.
Lastly, as we pursue the overarching ‘human’ approach to local client servicing in the UK, it has enabled us to deepen client partnerships and be better positioned to respond to local nuances, product needs and regulatory changes.
Lastly, could you share some key milestones or success stories from Pictet’s journey of development and expansion in the UK that you are particularly proud of?
I am proud of our achievements ingrowing and developing the franchise locally, but it is clear to me that as we lean in to a new digital age, face-to-face human interaction remains essential.
These personal connections have been important building blocks in garnering feedback to develop our client solutions suite. For example, Pictet responded to UK IAM’s needs by developing ISA Plan Manager and SIPP Custody solutions - an important piece of the asset servicing jigsaw - enabling a comprehensive custody service provision, leaving managers to focus on their core investment convictions.
In my 6 years with Pictet, I have been fortunate enough to meet many industry participants - from c-suite executives to operations staff - all of whom value Pictet’s local relationship management team who are at the heart of our business. This human connection creates long-term trust and is accompanied by a unique banking platform alongside our hallmarks of security and safety.
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