Euan Munro, CEO at Aviva Investors, has made big changes not only to investment processes, but also to personnel, in his quest to bring the money manager to the forefront of institutional decision-makers' minds.
One of the biggest challenges has been differentiating between “global” and “international.”
“Aviva Investors has been international for a very long time, but is now really coming together as a global asset manager,” Mr. Munro said.
The £234.3 billion ($370.7 billion) London-based firm has global capabilities and presence, he said, but the operations and view were compartmentalized.
“Until recently, asset managers within the regions looked toward local regions and regional clients: Asia (executives) ran Asia assets for Asian investors. We were really missing out on the opportunity to be global, pulling (executives across the globe) into conversations, sharing insights” and client perspectives, he said.
Aviva Investors “seemed to me to be structured like a whole lot of asset class boutiques,” Mr. Munro said. “When I arrived, there was genuinely a hunger to be put together and to engage. Giving them permission — and the travel budget — helps.”
“Fairly powerful” executive-level CEOs, “who were responsible for regions” were part of the problem, Mr. Munro said. “I dismantled the regional structure. We needed a matrix structure ... with global functional heads” of asset classes. Aviva Investors now has different, non-executive-level regional heads.
Significant changes to structure and personnel include:
- Pat O'Brien, North America CEO, and Tahnoon Pasha, Asia-Pacific CEO, left the firm. New regional, non-executive level CEOs are Andra Purkalitis for North America, and Kevin Talbot for Asia-Pacific;
- David Lis, promoted in October to chief investment officer, equities and multiassets — an executive role — from head of equities; and
- Jean-Francois Boulier, promoted to chief investment officer, fixed income — an executive role. He was appointed CEO for Aviva Investors France in 2009.
The firm also has faced uncertainty at the top, something Mr. Munro said had made it difficult to attract third-party interest. That uncertainty was sparked by the departure of CEO Andrew Moss in 2012. Paul Abberley temporarily filled the post and then returned to his job as head of investments in June 2013, before leaving the firm that November to join retail manager Charles Stanley & Co. Ltd. John Misselbrook, a non-executive director, took the CEO baton from Mr. Abberley until Mr. Munro joined permanently in January 2014.
“Given that asset management is a people business, having interim CEOs ... is just not wonderful,” Mr. Munro said. “Even that in itself is enough to put some consultants off. But those things have been very explicitly taken off the table.”