SYZ Asset Management is a company that benefits from perspective. And being located in the UK's two largest financial powerhouse locations enables the asset firm to best serve its clients and business from Scotland, as well as from London.
Headquartered in Geneva, SYZ Asset Management is the institutional asset management division of the SYZ Group. In total, the group employs 580 people worldwide, of whom 12 are based in the UK, split between London and Edinburgh. While the private bank is a source of some asset management business, SYZ is also growing via its wholesale and institutional distribution channels.
Established in Edinburgh since October 2014, Derek and the Edinburgh team, consisting of Claire Shaw, Portfolio Manager and Alasdair Cummings, Senior Analyst, are a new addition to the city’s asset management community.
Edinburgh: a financial hotspot
Edinburgh’s merits as a financial centre caught the group’s eye, resulting in the strategic decision to set up a presence in the city.
Derek remarks that “asset management is in Edinburgh’s DNA. Our Edinburgh team has a good network of business connections here, but more importantly, the sector is so well established.
"For years, companies have been successfully growing clients’ wealth, which has put the city on the map. We see both potential and established clients visiting Edinburgh, doing the rounds of the asset managers, either to assess their expertise or to keep tabs on their investment”.
Connected to quality
“A herd mentality can have a really detrimental effect on investor outcomes. Being at a distance from London is actually useful in this respect – we can screen out all the market noise and concentrate on the job in hand”.
Derek Borthwick, Business Development Director for SYZ Asset Management
Avoiding the herd
The Edinburgh office is the latest phase in SYZ’s growth plans. The group’s history is one of innovation, with a focus on developing quality products.
Derek talks candidly about the team’s contrarian approach to investing, explaining that “we aren’t governed by a benchmark, as we view this as a limiting approach. Often, benchmark-based investing doesn’t actually align with the real needs of clients”.
Critical thinking is key to this approach, as Derek explains.
“When a member of the investment team puts forward a stock idea, it has to withstand the critical analysis of the rest of the team. It needs to stand up to meticulous intellectual scrutiny”.
When you consider that the group’s portfolios are highly concentrated, this level of rigour makes sense. But how does Edinburgh fit into this approach?
Derek points out that “a herd mentality can have a really detrimental effect on investor outcomes. Being at a distance from London is actually useful in this respect – we can screen out all the market noise and concentrate on the job in hand – delivering tangible results for our clients”.
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The close-knit, collaborative nature of Edinburgh’s asset-management industry was another plus point for SYZ Asset Management. As Derek remarks, “the broader investment community is supportive and wants the sector to thrive, to innovate”.
That chimes well with SYZ’s growth aspirations, which are built on innovation – matching solutions to client needs. Derek cites the launches of share classes in Sterling and Swedish Krone as two recent examples of the group’s innovation.
Brilliantly connected to skills and markets
Of course, the benefits of being in Edinburgh don’t end there. It makes sense from a financial perspective, as the cost of establishing a base is lower compared to the likes of London. And finances aside, the quality of life on offer is enticing a substantial number of talented investment professionals to make their homes in the city.
Derek told us that “The calibre of investment opportunities on offer in Edinburgh is world class. You can carve out a varied and rewarding career here, without a time-consuming commute”.
Arguably, the biggest benefit to the city’s close connections – both in terms of infrastructure and its supportive community – is making it easier to do business here. And Edinburgh’s connectivity just keeps improving – last year, airline FlyBe added daily London City-Edinburgh flights to its roster. That follows on the heels of the city’s tram project, which was completed in 2014.
Derek is excited about the group’s growth prospects in Edinburgh. SYZ has recently decided to service the Nordic Region from the Edinburgh Office with Derek heading this up. The group’s OYSTER fund range, a Luxembourg SICAV launched in 1996, is gaining momentum, both in terms of assets and interest from investors.
Derek believes this shows the success of the group’s business model: “contrarian, and driven by a desire to innovate and adapt to client needs”. For the city, the arrival of SYZ further cements Edinburgh’s reputation as a world-class investment centre.
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