Martin Gilbert is a veteran of the financial world. As a co-founder of Aberdeen Asset Management, he’s helped build the British firm from scratch in 1983 to become the biggest listed fund manager in Europe, a distinction it earned a few years ago by replacing Schroders at the top spot.
But as Aberdeen’s head, Mr. Gilbert also received his share of criticism over the years. That’s especially true of the last few years, as the company has suffered setbacks in the volatile emerging-market regions where Aberdeen has long been a major player. Some customers have voted with their money in the past two years and withdrawn cash.
Despite the recent troubles, Mr. Gilbert isn’t about to change a proven strategy and is confident emerging markets are primed for a rebound. Nor is he thinking about retirement just yet. The 60-year-old manager, speaking to Handelsblatt at the company’s London headquarters, said: “I still think I’m 30.”
Handelsblatt: Your company has had a bad run since 2013 with large capital outflows. What’s the problem?
Martin Gilbert: Yes, it has been tough for us because we have been so big in emerging markets. We were fortunate to be so big in that area for a long time – but not for the last two years. But it’ll come back because developed markets look quite expensive at the moment. So I would say emerging markets have good value. The key thing for us is not to change your style and your asset allocation because that would be a mistake – you’d be finished as a business.
But looking at the United States, the Federal Reserve could be raising interest rates this year. That could put more pressure on emerging markets. Could your outflows even accelerate?
Yes, that could happen. Theoretically, a rate rise in the U.S. leads to a stronger dollar, which will not be good for emerging markets. But we look at it differently. Many companies in emerging markets are doing well, and the economies are growing faster than developed market economies. We need a change in sentiment – especially among retail investors. Institutional investors haven’t been as skeptical.