Frederic Niamkey has over 20 years’ experience in the financial industry of which 15 years in Asset Management. He held various positions at UBS Wealth Management, Credit Suisse Asset Management and Aberdeen Asset Management in Geneva. In June 2015, Frederic joined Mirae Asset Global Investments in London as a Sales Director initially covering France, Switzerland and the Benelux, as well as later on the Middle East. Mirae Asset Global Investments is one of the largest Independent Asset Managers in Asia with USD 194 bn assets under management. The group has developed specialist expertise in Emerging Markets and thematic investments and offers a wide range of both traditional and alternative investment products.
1. When and how did you start your career in the financial industry? Did you have any other vocation?
I started my career in finance in 2000 as a Portfolio Manager at UBS Wealth Management in Geneva. It was a great experience to get exposure to all asset classes (equity, fixed income and alternatives) especially at a time when markets were going through the dot-com bubble, Sept 11th, the Swissair collapse, the Enron scandal, the Iraqi war, etc.. This was a great lesson about the importance of portfolio diversification. I have also always been interested in international trading, and this is why after UBS, I worked for an oil trading company for two years before moving to the Asset Management industry.
2. What do you do as a Sales Director? How does your day look like?
I am in charge of Mirae Asset business relations in parts of Europe and the Middle East. This involves business development, client servicing, marketing and the administrative work that comes with it. I see my job as an orchestra conductor with the goal of providing the best services to my clients and constantly growing the business. A typical day involves some prospecting activities, communication with existing investors as well as constant interactions with our internal departments from Investments, Marketing, Product Development and Operations.
3. What’s your biggest challenge as a Sales Director at Mirae Asset Global Investments?
Making sure everything is under control! The success of our business depends on the work contribution from multiple parties and so it is very important that all the different parts are delivered on time. With most of our portfolio managers and operations staff based in Hong Kong, and at times the involvement of other offices in Asia and New York, it is often challenging to manage the different time zones with London.
4. What investment sectors and funds have clients been particularly interested in, in the first semester of 2021?
Despite the market volatility, client’s interest for Chinese equities has remained strong during the first half of 2021. Investors have continued to build long term strategic exposure to Chinese equities on the back of the sustained growth outlook. In our China equity mandates, we focus on growth companies capable of disrupting old business models with new technology or strong competitive advantages as well as on more traditional businesses gaining market shares in fragmented industries.
5. Which ones do you believe will be the post-pandemic investment trends?
A lot of pre COVID-19 investment trends and themes such as AI & 5G, fin-health-green tech and sustainable investing have been fuelled during the pandemic and should continue to grow strongly going forward. Considering that Asia is home to some of the most compelling growth opportunities in the world and offers exposure to those disruptive themes, I would expect investors’ appetite for the region to continue to grow over the next quarters and years.
6. Which assets do you think will perform best in the second semester of 2021 considering the current market situations? Which assets are performing well under stress scenarios?
For the second half of 2021, equities should continue to do well but with higher volatility linked to inflation risk, new COVID variants risk and policy normalisation. Within equities, more than a call between Growth or Value, a focus on quality overlaid by valuation discipline should be key. In Emerging Markets, there are still multiple pockets of secular growth drivers that offer attractive exposure to consumption, technology & innovation, urbanisation, or greener energies for example. Emerging Market equities remain significantly under-owned, and the region offers higher GDP and net income growth relative to Developed Markets with cheaper valuations.
While puts, gold, long volatility/VIX, cash and long bonds could offer protection and even perform well during stress scenarios, I would rather opt for a very well diversified portfolio and a long-term investment horizon. And again, quality companies should survive market crises and gain market shares in the recovery phase.
7. In your opinion, what are the key drivers for successful fund distribution?
Considering the very competitive environment in fund distribution, it is key to have a clear distribution strategy. While it is essential to have a deep understanding of the distribution networks, it is also critical to build a solid marketing and communication strategy to strengthen the brand awareness and the trust with investors. Finally, providing an excellent service and being close to your clients are also crucial for successful fund distribution.
8. Would you give any advice for anyone wanting to start a career in the asset management industry?
There are a multitude of jobs within the asset management industry that require different skill sets. In sales more specifically, I believe that flexibility, resilience, curiosity and communication are indispensable skills. I would also advise career starters to focus on building up a strong network within and outside their company.