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Investec AM changes its stripes

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Holders of Investec Asset Management (AM) funds say the asset manager must clearly communicate to investors how its rebrand to Ninety One will impact the funds they own.

Investec AM announced on Tuesday the new moniker will come into force following the asset manager’s demerger from the Investec Group which is expected to complete in Q1 2020.

A press release announcing the change said the name Ninety One was chosen to recognise the year Investec AM was founded in South Africa. Today the company manages more than £119bn for global institutional and adviser clients.

Investec chief executive and founder of Investec AM Hendrik du Toit said: “Back in 1991, when we started in South Africa, change was coming. Along with its challenges came the chance to invest in a better future. Being part of that change made us who we are. It taught us to be bold, resilient and agile; to believe that active investing can be a force for good.

“Our journey taught us to see the world differently, to recognise and react to change and uncertainty. Today, that’s what sets us apart. Now we’re changing our name, but not who we are.”

According to the new Ninety One website, fund names will change following the demerger, but the underlying teams, philosophies and processes will remain the same, as will clients’ investments.

The asset manager will lose its distinctive zebra logo once the demerger completes. The Ninety One website said: “As our business is separating from the Investec Group, it’s important that Ninety One develops its own brand and identity.”

‘A quirky numbered name’

AJ Bell holds the Investec UK Alpha fund managed by Simon Brazier. Head of active portfolios Ryan Hughes said the new name is “a little strange and needs quite a bit of explaining as to why it’s been chosen”.

“A recognisable brand is an important feature for some investors, particularly direct investors, and therefore the business will have to work hard to articulate what the business stands for and give it visual identity.”

But he noted Twentyfour Asset Management as an example of a successful firm with a “quirky numbered name”.

More important is a happy and committed team 

Hughes said retaining the likes of Brazier will be important, especially after the recent departure of Blake Hutchins, who was seen as a rising star and was Brazier’s protege, to Troy Asset Management.

Hughes added: “More important for us is to ensure that the fund management team are happy and committed to the business whatever it is called and the demerger is an important part of this.”

Chase de Vere is a holder of Hutchins’ former fund, Investec UK Equity Income. Head of portfolio management Ben Willis said he expects the rebrand to have little impact.

He said: “The asset management arm of the Investec Group is largely autonomous, so the impact is likely to be negligible, just that they will have to ensure that existing and potential clients understand that Ninety One used to be Investec.

“Clearly, there will need to be some kind of PR exercise to ensure that existing clients also understand this is the case. In terms of our clients they will want to know the background behind the decision and whether this will impact on the funds they hold and the resource behind them.”

A majority of non-executive directors on the board

The Ninety One website also said board appointments will be confirmed shortly after Investec Group’s interim results are published on 21 November. The board will include an independent non-executive chairman and other non-executive directors, including a senior independent director.

“Our new board composition, which includes a majority on non-executive directors, conforms to governance best practice,” it said.

News of the demerger and intention for Investec AM to become a separately listed entity was first announced in September 2018 following a strategic review by the Investec Group.

The group then confirmed in August 2019 the demerger and independent listing of Investec AM had received all key regulatory approvals.

Full details of new fund names, as well as phone numbers and email addresses will be communicated early next year.

Sebastian Cheek

Sebastian joined Last Word Media in 2017 as editor of Portfolio Adviser. He previously spent 10 years as a journalist and editor in the UK institutional investment sector, most recently as editor...

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