Schroders’ Mullins on investment team merger rationale

Schroders fixed income multi-asset active management

3 June 2024
| By Laura Dew |
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Sebastian Mullins, head of Schroders’ new combined fixed income and multi-asset division, says the move is a way of “future-proofing” the business. 

Last week, the fund manager announced it would be combining its fixed income and multi-asset divisions into one, to be led by Mullins as head of fixed income and multi-asset and Kellie Wood as his deputy. It also announced the departure of Stuart Dear, head of Australian fixed income, after 11 years.

Speaking to Money Management, Mullins said the two divisions had been run in this way several years ago under the leadership of Simon Doyle, who is now chief executive and chief investment officer for Australia, and the asset manager had now decided to remerge them again, partly in a bid to save resources that were duplicated between the two teams. 

Mullins said: “We separated the teams previously and let them each find their own footings but what we found was there was competition for sales and for resources etc so we have brought them back together so we can synergise across the teams. We are leaning into the cross-collaboration.”

Mullins has worked closely with Doyle over the years since he joined the Schroders multi-asset team in 2019 and when Doyle took the CEO role in June 2023, he was promoted as his replacement as head of multi-asset and fixed income.

At the time of the merger announcement last week, Doyle said Mullins will be a "strong, future-focussed head of the combined multi-asset and fixed income capability".

There is no indication that Doyle is departing but the firm’s global CEO Peter Harrison announced last month that he will retire next year after more than a decade. A “thorough and extensive search” for Harrison’s successor has been launched and the board said it anticipates an orderly transition during 2025.

Discussing the challenging environment for active managers currently with First Sentier Investors, Perpetual, and T. Rowe Price all making changes to their investment team, Mullins and head of Australian equities Martin Conlon acknowledged this was the case.

Conlon said: “We understand the value of passive funds but they are free-riding off of active managers. You need active managers to set prices for a fair and healthy marketplace. It has been a challenging time for active but an inflection point in markets is usually a positive time for active managers."

Mullins said: “It pays to be nimble and we are trying to take advantage of that. You have to be flexible with your asset allocation at the moment and hold a broad range of assets.”

 

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