2018: Solid investment performance despite weak markets – 2019: 25-year anniversary of Fisch Asset Management
In the challenging year for investors that was 2018, almost three-quarters of strategies under management beat their benchmarks, and all Luxembourg mutual funds maintained their excellent long-term track records. Convertible bond strategies, in particular, saved investors from sizeable losses compared with equity investments. Assets under management declined as a result of weaker markets from CHF 10.6 billion to around CHF 10 billion (EUR 8.8 bn). Thanks to investment in people and technology, and its promising new business pipeline, Fisch Asset Management is optimistic about 2019, the year in which it celebrates 25 years in business.
As at 31 December 2018, in the longer-term context, all of Fisch Asset Management’s Luxembourg mutual funds – currently nine convertible bond and corporate bond funds as well as two multi-asset absolute return funds – had beaten their benchmarks over three years and since inception (gross of fees). Co-CEO Philipp Good said the following about the firm’s success: “Our investment strategies proved themselves in tough market conditions in 2018. The solid investment performance last year and the outstanding long-term result are testament to our active approach. The medium- to long-term returns on our products are very pleasing, and show that the strategies deliver added value to our clients, most of whom are institutional investors. In particular, our convertible bond strategies saved investors from steeper losses than those suffered by many equity investors owing to their more defensive characteristics even though, in absolute terms, they closed the year in negative territory. Given the very challenging market environment, we are happy with this result.”
The difficult year for almost all asset classes impacted assets under management. They declined from CHF 10.6 billion at the end of 2017 to around CHF 10 billion (EUR 8.8 bn). Good remarked, “We are optimistic here too because of new business we have in the pipeline from both new and existing clients. In addition, we expect strong interest in tailored solutions in an increasingly uncertain market environment. This is where we can bring our renowned investment expertise to bear, and capitalise on this trend.”
Bringing in more investment expertise and investing in new technologies
In 2018, at the organisational level, Fisch focused on technology and hiring additional staff. The firm will continue to press ahead with both in 2019 as a matter of priority. On this subject, Co-CEO Juerg Sturzenegger said: “The restructuring of our IT infrastructure and application landscape is in full swing. It centres on the comprehensive upgrade of our technology, which to date has been built around in-house developed applications, as well as improved data processing and the expansion of our Data Science and Quant Finance team. These developments we see as beneficial to portfolio management and the investment process. The aims of these initiatives under way since the start of 2018 are to further enhance performance, to optimise the range of services for clients, and to meet the highest standards in times of integration of artificial intelligence. In addition, our state-of-the-art IT outsourcing solution will allow us to focus on our core business of asset management.”
In terms of staff, the Swiss asset manager reinforced its capabilities in portfolio management and research, in particular. “Fundamental credit analysis is a cornerstone of all our investment strategies, so we brought in more expertise here with the recruitment of five new portfolio managers and analysts in convertible bonds and corporate bonds. We will continue on our growth path in 2019 as well”, said Good. On the product front, the FISCH Convertible Global Dynamic Fund was launched in 2018. This convertible bond fund takes a more aggressive approach than the existing funds and complements the defensive, opportunistic and sustainable solutions.
2019 is a special year for Fisch Asset Management, marking a quarter of a century since it was founded by Kurt Fisch and Dr Pius Fisch. Commenting on the anniversary, Kurt Fisch said, “We are thrilled with what we’ve achieved. The firm started with two of us and, through the sustained and successful development of the business, this number has now grown to more than 90. Our philosophy was always forward-looking, so while we are pleased to have come this far, we look forward even more so to the next 25 years.”