Standard Life Investments 

Gars chief to be replaced with Schroders' Forest

Gars chief to be replaced with Schroders' Forest

The global head of multi-asset investing and leader of the struggling Global Absolute Return Strategy (Gars) strategy for Standard Life Aberdeen is set to retire.

Guy Stern will be replaced in both roles by Aymeric Forest, who left Schroders earlier this year.

The £15bn Gars strategy is among the worst performers in the IA Targeted Absolute Return sector over the past one and three years.

Absolute return funds are designed to thrive in volatility, yet the strategy has lost 2.8 per cent over the past three months, which is worse than the sector average.

Over one and three years to date (November 7), the fund is among the 25 per cent of worst performers in the sector, according to data from FE Analytics.

In a statement released this afternoon (November 7), a spokesman for Standard Life Aberdeen said Mr Stern will retire in 2019, following a 35-year career in the industry and a decade at Standard Life.

Mr Stern, who prior to joining Standard Life was chief investment officer of multi-asset class solutions at Credit Suisse Asset Management, said: "I have had an extremely rewarding time working for Standard Life Investments and more latterly Aberdeen Standard Investments but having worked in the industry for more than 35 years, I have decided to retire.

"The experience and expertise of the team that I am proud to be a part of means I am confident that they will continue to help clients achieve their long-term financial goals."   

The Gars fund had assets of £27bn in October 2016, but poor performance has caused this to dwindle to the present level of £15bn.

The efficacy of the absolute return sector as an investment option has been called into question in recent years, with Abraham Okusanya, founder at Finalytiq, stating the sector is a "ticking time bomb" due to the complexity of the underlying investments in products such as Gars.

The total pool of multi-asset assets managed by Standard Life Aberdeen is £140bn, according to the firm.

Mr Forest was formerly head of multi-asset investments for Europe at Schroders.

Darius McDermott, managing director of Chelsea Financial Services, said: "Aymeric Forest is a credible replacement for Guy Stern and we are pleased to hear that there will be a phased and orderly handover. This is positive for both the team and investors.

"Guy was instrumental in building Aberdeen Standard Investments’ Global Absolute Return Strategies (Gars) franchise.

"We wish him all the best for his upcoming retirement. Although Gars' performance has been disappointing in recent years, we hope to see an improvement under Aymeric's leadership."

david.thorpe@ft.com

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