Unigestion honours post-Brexit London commitment

The firm, which is headquartered outside of the European Union in Switzerland, said in a statement on July 12 that it had moved from its London Green Park office to a new, larger base in Stratford Place, close to Bond Street, to accommodate its rapidly-growing UK team.

Many have warned that the uncertainty caused by the UK’s decision to leave the EU would result in City-based financial firms putting crucial plans on hold and encourage them to consider moving resources to mainland Europe.

Columbia Threadneedle Investments confirmed in a statement on June 29 that it had “begun the process of applying to expand the scope of our Luxembourg-based management company to enable us to establish an asset management presence in Europe”.

Fellow asset managers Henderson Global Investors, Baring Asset Management and US firm T Rowe Price are also weighing their strategies in response in the wake of the referendum result.

In the same statement, Unigestion said it had grown its London team from 25 to 40 since the beginning of 2016, with the UK becoming its largest market outside Switzerland. The firm employs 203 people globally and has offices in Geneva, Zurich, Jersey City in the US state of New Jersey, Paris, Singapore, Toronto and Montreal.

Fiona Frick, chief executive of Unigestion, told FN in June 2015 that the group was not concerned about the prospect of the UK leaving the EU, as she set out plans to double headcount.

In the July 12 statement Frick said: “The expansion of our London team is a reflection of our commitment to the UK market, where we have had a presence for 16 years. We set ourselves this target of doubling our headcount in London to 40 people this year – regardless of the outcome of the EU Referendum. London will remain a key financial hub – for Unigestion and for the international asset management industry.”

In a research note on the effect of a UK vote to leave the EU back in March 2016, Unigestion said that a Brexit would “be more detrimental for the European Union and the eurozone than for the UK”, and that a withdrawal would make “little difference” to the UK’s long-term economic interest.

Frick said at the time: “I can understand why the UK doesn’t much want to go into the European framework which is becoming more and more strict. This is the same reason Switzerland said no [to joining the European Economic Area in 1992].”

Unigestion’s main investment lines cover equities, multi-asset, alternatives and private equity. The group counts Railpen, the Merseyside Pensions Fund and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham among its UK pension fund clients.

Frick added in the July 12 statement: “The UK is the second largest pensions market in the world after the US by assets, and far ahead of any other single European market in size. It has a huge pool of talent and will continue to attract excellent investment professionals and be a thriving market for institutional investors and asset managers to work together to find innovative solutions for long term investment needs.”

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