Martin Gilbert asked to step down from Abrdn fund boards

Martin Gilbert asked to step down from Abrdn fund boards

Martin Gilbert has been asked to step down from the board of two major funds run by Abrdn.

The request for Gilbert to step down from two Luxembourg-based Sicavs, as well as some US funds, was made due to “conflict of interests”, according to a spokesperson from Abrdn.

Gilbert relinquished his position on the board of a number of Abrdn-managed US funds earlier this year.

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He founded Abrdn’s predecessor, Aberdeen Asset Management, in 1983, and is currently chair of AssetCo, a company which acquires asset managers

A spokesperson for Abrdn said: “Gilbert was requested to step down from both Abrdn’s US and Luxembourg fund boards due to potential conflicts of interest given his involvement with businesses that compete with Abrdn and funds managed by it.”

The news was first reported by the Financial Times and The Sunday Times.

Client accounts

Abrdn has also been forced to freeze some institutional clients’ accounts after questions from the Luxembourg-based regulator, the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier, following an audit.

The queries related to client documentation missing from records for two Sicav funds, an open-ended fund structure.

The spokesperson said the company is working with a “small number” of clients in its Luxembourg business to resolve a historic issue relating to documentation.

“We maintain a routine of regular engagement with the relevant regulators who have been kept informed throughout.”

The news comes at a turbulent period for Abrdn, which has struggled with outflows since the merger of Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management in 2017, which in the five years since has seen its share price slump 74 per cent, leading to it falling out of the FTSE 100 earlier this year.

The current chief executive, Stephen Bird, took over in late 2020, and said 2021 was the company’s “reset year”. 

That year showed the first rise in fee-based revenue since the merger, though the group swung to a loss in the first half of this year.

 Volatile global markets have increased the pressure on fund managers, a number of whom have reduced pay packages and delayed hiring decisions in an attempt to cut costs.

Acquisition plans

Bird has previously hinted he wants to grow the firm through acquisitions, and at June 30 the firm had £2.8bn in regulatory capital, according to its results. 

In August last year the company bought AI-driven business Exo Investing to launch a 24/7 digital wealth management solution.

Then in November it bought investment platform Finimize, and in December paid £1.5bn for Interactive Investor.

Martin Gilbert has been approached for comment.