Schroders waits three years to fill head of investment role

Fund selectors query why Peter Harrison’s role had been vacant since 2016

Schroders

The appointment of Charles Prideaux as Schroders’ global head of investment has been welcomed but commentators say it’s “puzzling” and “strange” the role had been vacant since 2016.

Prideaux (pictured), who has more than 30 years’ experience, has been promoted from his current role as head of solutions amid a raft of other senior management changes.

The global head of investment role Prideaux steps into has been vacant since 2016 when Peter Harrison moved up to become group chief executive.

Prideaux will be responsible for the management, oversight and development of Schroders’ investment platform along with the ESG team and the Data Insights Unit.

Willis Owen head of personal investing Adrian Lowcock said: “I think it is an interesting development at Schroders and a sign that the new-ish CEO is not sitting back and waiting for events to overtake him.

“The challenge for any leader is to constantly look to make improvements to a business and be willing to change things. This gets harder when the management has been in place for a while as it is harder to change to your own way of doing things.”

Puzzling and strange

Tilney managing director Jason Hollands said it was “puzzling” that the head of investment role was left vacant for a prolonged period, but said Prideaux’s background and experience is well suited to the position.

Similarly, AJ Bell head of active portfolios Ryan Hughes said: “It does seem strange that it has taken so long but given the challenges facing active management, it seems sensible to now put this structure in place.

“These appointments look to be Peter Harrison putting in place his team to drive the investment element of the business forward.”

Lowcock argued that although the replacement of Harrison has taken a while, “it is much more important to get the right person in place than to rush any decision”.

Given the other changes in the business it is more likely to have taken some time to decide what the role will look like and therefore what a suitable character might be.”

Senior management shake up

Elsewhere Johanna Kyrklund has been appointed group chief investment officer alongside her existing role as global head of multi-asset investments.

Carolina Minio-Paluello is joining from Lombard Odier Investment Managers (LOIM) as global head of product, solutions & quant and will take oversight of Schroders’ quantitative investment teams. She was most recently LOIM’s global head of solutions.

Prideaux, Minio-Paluello and Kyrklund will work across Schroders’ investment desks with a focus on investment performance.

Meanwhile, global head of distribution John Troiano is retiring after 38 years with the firm. Lieven Debruyne, who has been leading the business strategy in Asia Pacific over the past 14 years, will take over Troiano’s role when a successor for his position has been found.

Hollands said: “This is quite a shuffling of the decks at Schroders, which has been evolving its business in recent times, as it builds out its specialist capabilities – including ESG and impact investing – and aims to get closer to the end client through wealth management.

“The effective combining of the CIO and head of multi-asset roles under Johanna Kyrklund is understandable, given both involve a focus on asset allocation, as well as understanding and articulating processes across various investment desks.”

ESG embedded into place

The wealth managers Portfolio Adviser spoke with also said the mention of ESG in Schroders’ press release came as no surprise. “The explicit mention of ESG shows just how important this has become for all asset managers and it will be key over the next couple of years how this becomes embedded in the investment process so it is perceived as the norm rather than an add on,” Hughes said.

Lowcock said: “The background in ESG is significant, even five years ago it might not have been flagged and could have been seen as negative on a CV. However, while the retail investment community is still trying to grasp the importance of ESG in investment decisions that battle has been had and won for fund managers.

“ESG is now a core consideration for fund managers making investment decisions and forms an integral part of the investment selection process.”

Shore Financial director Ben Yearsley added: “ESG is becoming more important to the investment community and fund managers are jumping over themselves to prove their credentials. I’d have been more surprised if ESG wasn’t mentioned.”

Portfolio Adviser contacted Schroders for a response.

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