Euan Munro takes control at Aviva

Aviva Investors has appointed Euan Munro as the new CEO of its ailing fund management business

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Munro will take up his new role at the insurance group in January, after finishing a successful stint as the global head of multi-asset investing and fixed income at Standard Life Investments. At SLI, Munro helped to establish the firm’s flagship Global Absolute Return Strategy (GARS) fund, which has evolved into one of the top multi-asset funds in the world. At Aviva, Munro will have his work cut out for him.

Aviva’s investment arm is currently suffering a period of instability. Munro’s appointment marks the firm’s fifth change in executive leadership since April 2012. Consequently, subpar management has taken its toll on the company’s financials. According to Eamonn Flanagan of Shore Capital, Aviva Investors’ lacklustre performance “stuck out like a sore thumb” last year compared to its competitors. After generating operating profit of only £42m – a 20.8 percent fall from the company’s 2011 earnings – that may be an understatement.

That said, Aviva Investors continues to be a pivotal player in global asset management. At the start of this year, the firm boasted £274bn in assets under management. Mark Wilson, the group’s CEO, has expressed faith Aviva’s investment arm will return to growth this year, and that Munro will be a breath of fresh air at the firm.

“There is significant scope to improve the profitability of Aviva Investors, a core part of the group,” he said. “Euan will play a pivotal role helping Aviva Investors capitalise on its expertise managing Aviva’s own funds, become a stronger third-party manager and increase its contribution to the group.”

Analysts say Munro’s departure will deliver a minor blow to SLI, and that the GARS fund he helped create will inevitably lose much of its ability to increase inflows. Yet the fund, which has increased its total assets by almost 50 percent since September last year, is expected to continue delivering strong returns. With any luck, Munro will be able to establish the same level of success at Aviva.

“I am joining Aviva because I see a clear opportunity to unlock the potential of Aviva Investors, a well established business with impressive scale and significant investment talent,” he said. “Aviva Investors’ proven investment capability means that it is well placed to meet the growing demands from the institutional market for income with low volatility.”