John D. Rogers became chief executive officer of INVESCO Institutional Group and a member of the executive board of AMVESCAP in December 2000 at the age of 40. As CEO, he is responsible for INVESCO's $117 billion institutional asset management business, which spans 30 offerings in seven asset classes. He graduated from Yale University with a degree in history and received his M.A. in East Asian Studies from Stanford University. He spent the first 13 years of his career in Asia, primarily in Japan. Fluent in Japanese, he joined INVESCO as chief investment officer and president of INVESCO's Tokyo office in 1994. He became CEO and co-chief investment officer of INVESCO Global Asset Management in 1997. Mr. Rogers recently sat down with P&I reporter Fred Williams in INVESCO's Atlanta office to discuss his first year as CEO and his views on money management.
Q Has your youth helped or hindered you in managing INVESCO'S institutional business?
A (Youth) is a relative concept. I had to wait 40 years to do this. I had the opportunity from a relatively early point in my career to be involved in starting up and then managing businesses in the investment management area. So, it's something I'm comfortable with and have had a fair amount of experience doing. In that respect, I don't think about my age. If anything, bringing a higher energy approach to this job is something that's been good. I tell everyone all my wrinkles are on the inside.
Q What's it like being responsible for billions of dollars of other people's money?
A If one begins to consider the enormous amounts of assets institutional money managers have been made responsible for, it is a daunting thought. The way to deal with this job, just like any other job, is to break it down, segment it into the challenges you've got to face now, the ones you're going to face soon and the ones you think you're going to face in the future, and deal with them one by one. It doesn't matter whether you're managing $10 million or $100 billion, you've got to be methodical and goal oriented and organized to deal with these things, to bring a sense of humor to the task while not forgetting that it is the client's money. I'm fortunate that I've got a tremendous team of experienced people around me in every part of the business. They are very capable and help me tremendously in managing this organization.
Q How does your international background contribute toward doing your job now?
A (Japan) seemed like a tremendous source of energy in the world in the '70s and '80s. It was a wonderful place to learn about growth, development and how economies are put together. And then to go out and participate in that economy and the financial markets was a tremendous learning experience. I think what I learned was to be able to be comfortable wherever I hung my hat, in any kind of environment, in any group or setting, with people I've never met, people who have completely different backgrounds and bring completely different ways of doing things to the table.
Q Do you continue to follow economic events in Japan?
A I do, yes, with some alarm. I guess it's a classic example of missed opportunities. Having lived through the '80s there and now having lived through the tremendous boom in our economy here, I see so many similarities on the way up. I'm counting on our response here being more effective in bringing this slowdown in the U.S. to an end than has been the case in Japan. There have been many missed opportunities there, which is a shame because it has now gone way beyond being just an economic issue and has become a social issue.
Q What would you point to as your major accomplishment since becoming CEO?
A We, as a team, have been working on a number of things. First has been a sense of real urgency about investment excellence. That is our rallying cry. That's why we are here. We've had some great success in winning business in a variety of different products at very high levels of competition, with very sophisticated clients who won't accept anything less than investment excellence. I think we are making good progress there.
Second is strengthening our internal image and making what I call a captivating place to work. Many of the features of our firm have attracted people from all over the industry for many years - independence, the focus on investment management, the opportunity to own a piece of our company, the decentralized nature of our business - as we've grown and gotten more sophisticated. We need to continue to create an environment that will captivate the best investment professionals, the best client service people the industry has to offer. I think we've made some good strides there.
The other thing we've been working on very hard is creating relationships between the client and INVESCO, as opposed to the client and a single product. We've seen some measurable success there in terms of percentage of our new business that comes from existing clients is rising quite rapidly.
Q Are there any gaps or holes in the investment spectrum that you would like to see filled?
A I'd say we're pretty complete in most of our product areas. I would like for us to have a broader array of institutional products in the value area, which has been our traditional strength. We also see quite clearly there will be lots of opportunities for us to tailor strategies, sophisticated product strategies, that involve the use of alternative investment products where we are already are a major player. What I think is going to happen is the increasing marriage of return streams with structures that fit particular client needs. You can do many things with that concept to add value beyond the traditional asset classes. It's the marriage of product design with return streams. By that, I certainly do not mean hedge funds.
Q What about your goals and plans for the future?
A First, we've got to deliver what we are asked to deliver, and that is investment excellence - a very high level of service. Through doing that, we want to be the defining institutional firm. That doesn't mean necessarily the very largest. It means a firm that people want to work for, a firm that our competitors perhaps don't like to compete against in finals, a firm that sets standards, a firm our clients point to as their best relationship.
What do you do for relaxation?
A Like most people, my primary pursuit outside of work is to spend time with my family. I've got two young daughters and they keep me very busy. I'm able to enjoy all the good things Atlanta has to offer in terms of sports and outdoor activities. I read a great deal and have always enjoyed history.