‘We were being driven to rely more on third party products’

When multi-asset trio Percival Stanion, Andrew Cole and Shaniel Ramjee left Baring Asset Management in 2014 to join Pictet Asset Management, the move clearly signalled the latter’s intention to push into the UK retail space with a multi-asset offering. But the team’s explanation of their decision seems to focus more on their former employer.

Having left Pictet in 1998, head of multi-asset Mr Stanion says the attraction of returning to the company was about “taking a longer-term view of the multi-asset business”.

“To remain competitive in offerings in that area we need to be able to manufacture most of the products internally and [we] identified that as a critical consideration. At Barings we faced an increasing existential challenge from the fact that the ability to internally manufacture was being curtailed.

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“The components that we needed to create products at Barings were being reduced in number because the firm wasn’t reinvesting in critical equity and bond specialities. We were being driven to rely more and more on third-party products.”

He admits this would have been bearable had he been thinking of exiting the industry entirely in a couple of years’ time, but as his ambition was to build a franchise, “that was a very serious, long-term problem”.

CV - Percival Stanion

2014 – present Head of multi-asset, Pictet Asset Management

2001 – 2014 Director, head of multi-asset and head of asset allocation at Baring Asset Management

1998 – 2001 Director, head of asset allocation, BNP Paribas Asset Management

1993 – 1998 Director, head of diversified accounts at Pictet Asset Management

Then came the challenge of finding a fund house with the scale of resources and commitment to asset management that the trio were seeking. Mr Stanion says: “Pictet has this much broader array of internal manufacturing capability, which means we can construct multi-asset products, not just for the UK but for other geographies, using far more internal capabilities of a much higher standard.”

Mr Cole’s assertion “I don’t think I would have survived at Barings for another 10 years”, having spent 28 years at the firm, suggests the team had reached a critical point.

“As my colleagues Andrew and Shaniel will tell you, it’s really nice to be surrounded by high-quality teams,” Mr Stanion says.

“We were very much the only bit at Barings that had success in recent years and that becomes an unbalanced situation. Here, there’s lots of other successful teams who have got different ways of doing things and we relish being intellectually challenged by our colleagues.”

Mr Ramjee adds: “Being able to build a business at Barings was extremely interesting, but the opportunity to get to do it again was thrilling.”

Part of the appeal of Pictet was its owner-managed structure, which Mr Stanion believes is in stark contrast to some of the larger asset management houses where “you had to put a huge amount of energy into internal communications just to speak to all the different teams”.

Pictet already operated multi-asset businesses in Europe and Japan and these have now been brought under his control. “We have a coherent single platform for building multi-asset products globally where we set our tactical asset allocation policy, so we have commonality of thinking about what positions we’re going to put in place,” he adds.