For much of the past 12 months, the buy-side have been focused on adjusting to the new regulatory landscape ushered in by Mifid II, although there have also been new ventures into the world of cryptocurrencies and an increasing focus on emerging markets and multi-asset strategies.
The importance of technology-centric strategies have also increased throughout 2018, with buy-side firms ramping up their efforts and investments to increase the efficiencies and results of electronic trading, with increasing attention on emerging technologies to tackle concerns about hitting growth objectives within the current market environment.
Some firms are also evaluating the value of high-touch trading compared with greater automation, particularly in the foreign exchange markets, while The TRADE’s annual Algorithmic Trading Survey showed that buy-side firms are becoming increasingly critical of the algorithms and the providers they use as the effects of MiFID II begin to bed in. However, everyone is throwing their hats into the technology ring with wild abandon, with regulatory specialists from major asset management firms raising concerns that the buy-side is too reliant on technology vendors at this year’s InvestOps conference.
In the regulatory sphere, the unbundling of research payments from execution fees under MiFID II has proved to be one of the main challenges for the buy-side this year, with the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) going so far as to clarify the use of free-trial periods for research services in July. The unbundling trend hasn’t been limited to Europe either, with buy-side firms across the global also adopting a similar approach.
For The TRADE’s cover profiles this year, we spoke to Miles Kumaresan, formerly head of trading and FinTech at Nordea Asset Management, about bringing his technology expertise and experience to tackle the ongoing issue of sourcing liquidity in the bond space, Neil Joseph, European head of equity trading at JP Morgan Asset Management, about how the firm is optimising equity execution and handling ever-increasing volumes, and Yann Couellan, head of FICC trading at BNP Paribas Asset Management, about how curiosity is the key to the success in FICC trading. The TRADE will publish a cover profile with Ed Wicks, global head of trading at Legal & General Investment Management in its Winter 2018 edition.
There were also a host of movers on the buy-side this year, with the biggest news coming from Germany with the announcement that Deutsche AWS (formerly Deutsche Asset Management) veteran Mike Bellaro was leaving the firm after 30 years. In July, Plato Partnership announced that Bellaro had been appointed as the industry groups’ first chief executive, while at the same time, Union Investment’s head of multi-asset trading, Christoph Hock, had been appointed as buy-side chairman.
Paul Squires left his post as head of trading at AXA Investment Managers in February after 21 years with the firm, before joining Invesco as head of EMEA trading. AXA IM tapped Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Yannig Loyer as its new global head of trading, to replace Squires, in October.
Following the completion of its merger last year, Janus Henderson dropped its co-CEO structure at the start of August, opting to appoint Dick Weil as the sole chief executive of the business. The firm also continued its multi-asset drive with the hire of Michael Ho as global head of multi-asset and alternatives.
Elsewhere, Schroders announced that Rory Bateman will take on the role of head of equities at the firm in March next year, while asset management industry veteran Anne Richards swapped her role as CEO of M&G Investments for that of Fidelity International.