Managing around £50 billion in funds, Kames Capital is enjoying significant success both at home and abroad. CEO Martin Davis explains why the company’s Edinburgh HQ is the perfect place to grow the business.
You can almost sense the connectivity Kames Capital has between London and Scotland. Within its head office in Edinburgh, executives in crisp suits are captivated as the latest market news flashes up on a screen in the corporate waiting area. Outside, from nearby Edinburgh airport, jet engines roar in the cold winter morning, ready to shuttle an eternal procession of business people between the UK’s two largest financial centres.
Scotland is an excellent base for its UK, European and global operations
The firm’s level of business is also making noise: between Edinburgh and London, and further afield, Kames Capital manages £51.3 billion (€59.3 billion) on behalf of UK and international clients. This includes wealth managers, financial advisers, family offices, pension funds and financial institutions.
Heading up the operation is CEO Martin Davis, who has been with the firm since September 2013. He also sits on the Aegon Asset Management board (Kames’ parent company) which is based in the Netherlands and is the asset management arm of the large Dutch financial services firm, Aegon.
Martin says: “We are very pleased with the way Kames Capital has grown in recent years. Our belief is that Scotland, particularly Edinburgh, provides an excellent base from where to expand our UK, European and international operations. We are very much committed to the country."
Delivering superior investment performance
Kames Capital’s only business is asset management. As Martin explains; “We aim to deliver superior investment performance that meets or exceeds our client’s expectations with an appropriate level of risk.”
The company’s awards cabinets that sit in its Edinburgh office show that it has enjoyed a significant amount of success in achieving this aim. Kames focuses on six key investment capabilities. It is probably best known for its very successful fixed income products, but it also has a thriving book of business through the Equity, Property, Multi-Asset and Absolute Return investment solutions it offers.
The sixth capability is Kames’ long-term expertise in ethical investing. The company, as Martin explains, is “one of the oldest ethical fund managers in the UK.
- Principal offices: Edinburgh (head office) and London
- Total employees: 325
- Total funds under management: £51.3 billion (€59.3 billion) as of 30 Sept 2016
- Investment capabilities: Fixed income, equities, property, multi-asset, absolute return, ethical
- Clients: Pension funds, family offices, government agencies, wealth managers, insurance companies, financial advisers, banks, individuals.
An ethical business with ethical funds
The Kames Ethical Equity Fund was launched in April 1989, followed by a Corporate Bond Fund and a fund that combines both equities and bonds. Recently, the company added to its ethical range with the launch of the Kames Global Sustainable Fund. As of June 30, 2016, Kames managed £2.5bn in ethical and sustainable mandates.
The growth of its ethical franchise mirrors the expansion of the company not only in the UK but abroad. “Europe has been a key success for us in the past few years,” says Martin. “The size of the European market means there are huge opportunities for asset managers and we hope to build on our recent success through our established Dublin-based fund range. Further afield, the company sees significant growth opportunities in Asia and the US.
Scotland has provided the perfect place for growth
But for all of its global ambitions there is a sense, walking through the corridors of its Edinburgh office, that the company has never forgotten its roots. Each client meeting room is named after a brilliant Scot from years gone by: Watt, Hume, Smith to name a few. Kames Capital’s heritage in Scotland dates back to 1831 when the Scottish Equitable Life Assurance Society was founded, laying down roots for continued growth across the business.
So how has Scotland been a draw for the firm alongside London?
Historically, Martin believes Scotland has delivered a steady stream of financial talent for his firm. He adds that Scotland’s universities have performed an “excellent role” in producing numerate and educated people for the asset management sector.
Most of the firm’s commercial, operations, human resources, finance, and risk and compliance functions are located in Edinburgh, while its sales and property investment teams are based in London.
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People have moved to Kames Capital because of Scotland’s excellent quality of life
Martin highlights that a major draw for employees is Scotland’s fantastic quality of life, attracting people from London and elsewhere; they appreciate that it’s possible to live 15 minutes from the office, and work in award-winning cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow.
And it’s back to the synergy point between the two UK capitals: Martin highlights that Edinburgh Airport offers excellent connectivity with City Airport and other London air terminals.
Competitive salaries in Scotland’s financial sector are also an incentive. He says: “We pay people in Scotland at comparable rates to London. A number of expats have applied to work here, wanting to return to their roots. Our business also has a much higher percentage of women than the industry average. Scotland offers a superb work / life balance that is complementary to those of London.”
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