Candriam Investors Group - Fabrice Cuchet

Award for Excellence in Alternatives 2016 & Pan-European Multi-Specialist Asset Manager of the Year

Company: Candriam Investors Group

Candriam Investors Group is a leading pan-European multi-specialist asset manager. As part of series of enlightening articles on the firm, CIO Fabrice Cuchet provides us with an insight into the firm and its work. 

Candriam is a pioneer in absolute return investments, having launched our first alternatives product in 1996. Today, 20 years later, we remain at the forefront of the industry with leading investment solutions and a total of 7bn Euros of assets under management in alternative products. Over the last two decades we have developed both UCITS and non-UCITS funds to help diversify the portfolios within our absolute returns strategy and have launched, on average, new a strategy every 18 months since then. 

Our first alternative investment fund was a convertible bond fund which was launched in 1996 by Naim Abou-Jaoudé, our current CEO. I joined the firm in 1999 to launch the Long Short Equity process and became the firm’s CIO in 2006. Throughout this time I have seen the firm grow, thanks both to its individual boutique culture and dedication to the continual development of its fund managers. 

We strive to develop products for the varied and evolving needs of our clients and operate risk frameworks which are tailored their specific requirements. Our particular focus is on low and mid-volatility investment solutions that offer a good alternative both to bond and equity investing. 

This transparent, client-centric approach to product development helps ensure that investors are always satisfied with result. Our product range is very diversified and includes; long short credit, convertible bonds, long short equity, index arbitrage, risk arbitrage, global macro and CTAs. Each of these areas provides clients with different risk/return profiles and investment strategies.

Whilst high returns are important, liquidity, which ensures these can be paid out, is also key. At Candriam we have adopted a credulous approach to liquidity since day one, offering solutions with daily, weekly or monthly liquidity across the range, putting us truly ahead of the rest of our industry.

Another integral part of ensuring consistency and transparency for clients is take good care of our people. Excellent investment managers are vital to long term success in our industry and, as such, we work extremely hard to secure and retain the best in the business. 

The result of our strong focus on people is that, of the 45 fund managers in the alternatives business at Candriam, the majority have worked together for 15 years or more. We have gone through a number of challenging periods together, meaning we know and understand each other’s personalities and working methods. I truly value the strong professional relationships I have with my managers, as it makes working together both more effective and more enjoyable. 

Another important aspect of our organisational design is that our teams are relatively small, enabling them to work more cohesively and concentrate solely on their funds - defined predominantly by asset class. Each team is dedicated to just one investment process, creating a unique boutique culture which is almost unheard of in a large, diversified asset management firm such as ours. 

Supporting our investment managers, we also have an equity finance team which manages collateral and securities lending, an integral part of our firm which ensures that each investment team has enough cash to cover its investments at all times. In conjunction, a three-person quantitative research team work transversally with all fund managers to help identify new investment opportunities. 

I truly believe that the combination of our culture, organisational design and proximity to our clients is unique within our industry and is the reason for our success and longevity of our alternatives business. We offer an alternative to bond investment through our diversified portfolio which provides our investors with choice, something which is always welcome within the finance industry.