Aviva Investors to Eliminate Hundreds of Funds to Lower Costs

  • Number to be reduced to as few as 200 from current 1,500
  • Aviva Investors CEO Munro says few jobs will be elminated

Aviva Investors, the asset manager for the U.K.’s second-biggest insurer by market value, plans to cut the number of funds it runs to as few as 200 within 18 months in order to slash costs.

"There’s no reason why we should have more than a few hundred -- 200 or 300 -- funds," Aviva Investors Chief Executive Officer Euan Munro said on the sidelines of the FundForum conference in Berlin. Aviva has 1,500 funds now compared with 3,000 when Munro took office in January 2014. Cutting funds involves combining similar products to reduce administrative expenses, he said.

Aviva Plc, the asset manager’s parent, has been on a drive to cut costs and improve profitability since CEO Mark Wilson took office three years ago. Asset managers are under pricing pressure, in part due to increasing competition from low-cost index funds and automated advisory services. Aviva Investors’s process of reducing funds was interrupted due to last year’s merger with Friends Life and now the process has been restarted, Munro said.

The fund cuts won’t result in any "major headcount reduction" because the company is continuing to grow, Munro said.

Aviva isn’t the only company with too many funds -- it’s an issue across the industry, Munro told an audience at the FundForum conference.

"When our industry thinks of innovation, it thinks ‘let’s design a new fund or a new product,’ rather than thinking of innovation we should put into our products to make them do what they’re supposed to do," he said on Tuesday.

Active investment managers may need to shrink their assets by as much as 30 percent to restore their ability to meet benchmarks, AllianceBernstein Holding LP CEO Peter Kraus said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Tuesday. The industry has grown too large, forcing managers to diversify and thereby undermining returns, he said.

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