BlackRock is second and Amundi ranks third, according to the new Broadridge Fund Brand 50 Report. Lazard AM gains nine points and makes a smashing entry into the standings.

Natixis Investment Managers became the preferred brand of fund selectors in France in 2023, according to the annual survey conducted by Broadridge. It wins the title from Pictet, who held it since 2019. Last year, the BPCE investment management company was second. “Natixis is now ranked among the top three brands for nine of the eleven criteria we are looking at,”, comments Chris Chancellor, Vice President, Distribution Insight, Broadridge, interviewed by L'Agefi. Client focus and ESG were particularly important.

Broadridge Fund Brand 50 has been evaluating asset management brands for 13 years based on interviews with more than 1,200 fund selectors worldwide. The latter are invited to name their three main suppliers according to ten criteria such as the attractiveness of investment strategies, team stability, sustainability, client centricity...

Long-time leader, Pictet drops four places and finds itself fifth. Broadridge notes that asset management brands strongly associated with ESG, such as Pictet and others, saw their ratings decline in 2023, in a challenging year for this theme, although the phenomenon was more mixed in France.

BlackRock comes second in the French ranking, thanks to a gain of one point. "BlackRock has a very different brand profile than Natixis: BlackRock is ranked number one for three criteria but also has three criteria ranked outside the top 20; it shows that you don’t have to be loved for everything to have a strong brand. Above all, the group is considered a strong and innovative key global player. With the headwinds of recent years, it’s important to be seen as a strong and stable company,” says Chancellor.

Amundi rose to third place, after being fifth last year. “Amundi excels in knowledge of the whole sector - this is its main characteristic, but in all honesty, the company is good in all areas. In each of our 11 criteria, Amundi ranks in the top 10, which means it is valued for a wide range of reasons and has a fairly consistent brand profile,” says Chris Chancellor.
With the headwinds of recent years, it is important to be seen as a solid and stable company."

~ Chris Chancellor, Vice President, Broadridge

After two years of stability, the ranking of the three preferred management companies of French fund selectors has therefore changed in 2023.

The 2023 French ranking is also marked by the sensational entry of Lazard Asset Management in sixth place, thanks to a gain of nine points over one year. “Lazard has seen its brand position grow in almost every country in Europe, suggesting it is doing good things in several places. Growth was particularly strong in France. In France, it seems that this is related to the product, since the brand has made strong progress for the 'attractive investment strategy' but also for the service - it is now ranked number one for the brand attribute 'being best informed'. The fact that they are well-rated for a range of bond sectors will certainly have helped in 2023,” Chancellor said.

Another investment management company that has distinguished itself: Eleva Capital, which gains three places and takes the ninth. Other independent asset managers are in the ranking: Moneta AM, which wins one point and ranks eighth, and Comgest, which loses four places and comes tenth. In contrast, La Financière de l'Echiquier, which is being absorbed by LBP AM, left the top 10.

Fidelity remained stable in fourth place, while JPMorgan AM gained one point and placed seventh.

Vanguard benefits from the popularity of passive management.
In the European ranking, the five preferred brands of fund selectors remain unchanged from last year. These are the well-established players BlackRock, JPMorgan AM, Fidelity, Pictet AM and Amundi.

For the rest, Vanguard made a noticeable entry into the top 10, taking advantage of an increasingly pronounced craze for passive management. The iShares ETF specialist is also up in the rankings, moving from eighth to sixth place, ahead of Robeco, although the Dutch asset manager retains first place for its ESG credentials. The passive trend is also highlighted by Xtrackers' entry into the top 50, with the company’s range of sector and thematic ETFs proving popular with fund selectors,' notes Barbara Wall, Director of Global Distribution Insights at Broadridge.

Pimco is also making a comeback in the rankings, thanks to its bond positioning that is rather well adapted to the current period.

In addition to passive management, 'the striking fact is that 2023 was a bad year for ESG in Europe', says Broadridge. “Transparency issues, poor performance, regulatory pressures and energy security issues exacerbated the situation. Outflows from responsible investment funds, concerns about greenwashing and the reclassification of many Article 9 products were aggravating factors, with some commentators questioning whether the ESG reached a tipping point”, details the consultant.

Broadridge’s interviews with fund selectors suggest that this may be exaggerated, as ESG is still a major consideration in investment decision-making. “But companies are undeniably more skeptical and subject asset managers' references to further scrutiny to validate a company’s ESG good faith. To facilitate this, selectors would like to have a more standardized vocabulary around ESG, as well as better communication on portfolio positions and engagement”, notes Broadridge.

That said, even if ESG beliefs are no longer a game changer, Broadridge points out that 50% of the top ten brands are doing very well in this area. Amundi in particular was commended for its range of sustainable investments.

If ESG is less of a differentiating factor for asset management companies and their clients, others take over: unlisted/private assets for example. And some players took advantage of this. “Schroders' reputation in the growing private markets and bond markets mitigated criticism of the company’s fees and allowed the manager to limit the damage to its brand to a single step down the scale,” comments Broadridge.

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