Last updated: 22:15 / Tuesday, 10 October 2017
Annual Event in London

MFS Investment Management: “We Cannot Emphasize Enough the Fact that We Are Active Managers”

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MFS Investment Management: “We Cannot Emphasize Enough the Fact that We Are Active Managers”
  • Lina Medeiros, president of MFS International limited, hosted clients at the firm’s annual European Investment Forum
  • Joining Medeiros were MFS’ CEO, President and CIO, Michael Roberge, who reviewed MFS’ key differentiating attributes, and by William J. Adams, CIO of Global Fixed Income
  • For MFS, having an integrated global research platform, in which ideas are developed and heard, translates into better performance
  • Lina Medeiros: “We cannot emphasize enough the fact that we are active managers. Now more than ever, when the tide of passive investment has raised all markets, it’s important that we remain on course”

MFS Investment Management held its 2017 European Investment Forum on September 28-29, in London, an event that focused on the culture and investment philosophy of the Boston-based international asset management firm and offered its perspective on the challenges facing its clients. Through various presentations, the firm's investment teams presented the outlook for its fixed income, equity and multi-asset strategies as well.

MFS’ CEO, President and CIO, Michael Roberge, reviewed the firm’s key differentiating attributes, and William J. Adams, CIO of Global Fixed Income, walked clients through the firm’s spectrum of fixed income capabilities. Attendees were then able to meet with MFS Meridian Funds’ managers, who shared the investment objectives, key features, current positioning and future outlook for each of the asset classes in which they invest.

The event was attended by the MFS Meridian Funds Global Opportunistic Bond Fund’s portfolio manager Pilar Gómez-Bravo, the MFS Meridian Funds Emerging Markets Debt Fund’s institutional portfolio manager Robert M. Hall, the MFS Meridian Funds U.S. Corporate Bond Fund’s portfolio manager Robert Persons, the multi-asset MFS Meridian Funds Global Total Return Fund’s institutional portfolio manager Katrina Mead, and the MFS Meridian Funds Prudent Capital Fundy Prudent Wealth Fund’sportfolio manager Barnaby Wiener.

An active management firm

Lina Medeiros, president of MFS International Limited, hosted the event and welcomed attendees from Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, France, Portugal and the United Kingdom. During her presentation, she reminded those present that MFS continues to seek investment opportunities for its clients around the world. "Today we are one of the top active asset managers, focusing on what is important -a company’s fundamentals- to provide the returns that clients expect. This focus results in low-turnover and high active share portfolios."

For MFS, having an integrated global research platform, in which ideas are developed and heard, translates into better performance. While performance over 3- and 5-year periods is important, MFS is pleased to deliver strong over longer time horizons, according to Medeiros.

"For the 10-year period ending on July 31, 2017, 93% of our MFS Meridian Funds Assets are in the top half of their respective Morningstar categories. In addition, approximately 70% of these funds' assets are in the top quartile compared to their Morningstar peer groups. As a management firm that has been in existence since 1924, we know we can take a long-term perspective on how we invest. We marry that long-term perspective with a disciplined, repeatable investment process."

Medeiros emphasized the importance for MFS to demonstrate its culture and values through its managers’ different presentations. "We treat our clients honestly, with as much transparency as possible regarding our approach, our products and our people. We are a company based on teamwork and collaboration, which we believe drives better decision-making. We are not satisfied, nor are we complacent, with our achievements; we must continually strive to achieve high standards, especially in the dynamic industry in which we work and in an increasingly complex world where intellectual curiosity is vital. Everything changes so fast that without that intellectual curiosity, it would be easy to fall behind."

For MFS, it’s essential to do the right thing for its clients, employees and communities. They take their responsibility very seriously, as it is vital to manage clients’ assets prudently. "We are passionate about client service and about the MFS culture. We like what we do and we believe in what we do. It is precisely our values that have helped us to create a sustainable and diversified business."

With more than EUR 400 billion in assets under management at the end of the third quarter of 2017, MFS has a diversified client base of institutional and retail clients globally, which allows it to bring efficiencies of scale in major markets around the world. At the asset class level, they have also developed in-depth experience in all areas of equities, fixed income and multi-asset class investing.

What are clients’ main worries?

In order to get a better understanding of the concerns of institutional investors, financial advisors and professional fund buyers, MFS commissioned a study in which it sought to know the sentiment of investors. Medeiros also referenced an independent study at the event, which sought to uncover the factors that motivate their investors' decisions.

For professionals surveyed in the 2016 MFS Active Management Investment Sentiment Study -500 financial advisors, 220 institutional investors and 125 professional buyers - the main concern is a sharp drop in the markets. This is followed closely by  global geopolitical instability. For the retail financial advisers (1,628) and professional fund buyers (670) surveyed in the NMG Global Investment & Brand Study, cited by MFS at the event, long-term performance was the most decisive factor, followed by the consistency and quality of the investment process. "Investors are as worried about how the results are obtained, as about the results themselves," Medeiros added.

The signals sent by the market

There are numerous forces that are changing the value chain in all aspects of the financial services industry. Companies are shifting their business models to meet current challenges. According to MFS, facing all the factors that are challenging the industry – the backlash against globalization, the move toward passive and heightened regulatory scrutiny - it is imperative to have conviction in what they do and in how they do it. "Sometimes clients ask us why we don’t offer a certain product or capability. If it turns out that the capability is needed for clients in the long run, in a strategy where we feel we can add alpha, we will develop it. But, if it’s just a fad, we will pass. We cannot emphasize enough the fact that we are active managers. Now more than ever, when the tide of passive investment has raised all markets, it’s important that we remain on course."

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