To see this article in digital magazine format, click here.
The Numbers Guys
Robert Groves, 35
Head of Asset Liability Management, Friends Life
You know how liability-driven investing is all the rage nowadays? It wasn't always so, and Groves is one of the pioneers who helped bring it mainstream. As an investment consultant working with Friends Provident, Groves helped implement the first LDI strategy by a FTSE 100 company in the United Kingdom in 2003.
Now responsible for almost £40 billion in insurance assets and liabilities, Groves says the financial world has changed dramatically since this toe-dipping into LDI. "Institutional investment changes so quickly. Ten years ago there was little exposure to derivatives. Now we have woken up to how they can work," he says.
After completing a math degree, Groves did not fancy banking or accounting, so he made for the pensions department at the Government Actuary's Office. He soon realized a career of statistics was not for him. "Investment work is where the exciting things and the relevance is," he says, and lists previous employers Dresdner Kleinwort and UBS as good training grounds for figuring out how investments and derivatives could be used to an investor's advantage. His role at these banks was mainly marketing though, and he wanted to be involved with the fundamental investment strategy. "I'd already seen and worked with insurance companies and Friends Life was just restructuring their Asset Liability Management Team. They had a good governance structure and instead of only meeting every quarter, the in-house team gets stuff done." For a man with a history of doing just that, Friends Life seems the perfect fit.
The Numbers Guys: We're not saying they're nerdy...okay we are. Maybe just a little. But let's be clear: This is a good thing. When, in one sense, fund executives can feel themselves interacting with asset managers and servicers that may not have their best interest at heart (think the Goldman Sachs resignation letter in The New York Times, or numerous transition management teams), it pays to have people on staff who can truly parse techno-speak and figure out what is really being pitched. So here's to the nerds.