Tuesday, August 18, 2020 Stamford, CT USA — When the COVID-19 crisis sent global markets into a tailspin in March, asset managers in Europe braced for what they feared would be the painful impact of an investor flight from risk and a general paralysis that threatened to put the brakes on institutional manager hiring. 

Over the intervening quarter, the opposite occurred: Markets rebounded, demand for risk assets spiked, and European institutions continued and even accelerated their manager hiring. The end result has been a surprisingly fertile environment for asset managers competing for institutional mandates and assets. 

Throughout this tumultuous year, a small group of leading managers have strengthened their positions in the European market. These managers have one thing in common: They all had best-in-class client service infrastructure in place before the pandemic. These platforms provided the technological capabilities and client service procedures needed to stay close to clients and help them navigate the crisis. 

2020 Greenwich Quality Leaders
All of the 2020 Greenwich Quality Leaders in Overall Continental European Institutional Investment Management meet that description. At the top of that list is PIMCO, the 2020 Greenwich Quality leader across the European market. 
In Germany, Allianz Global Investors and Union Investment join PIMCO as 2020 Greenwich Quality Leaders in Overall Institutional Investment Management Quality. 

In the United Kingdom, the title of 2020 Overall U.K. Institutional Investment Management Service Quality Leader goes to three firms: Baillie Gifford, Insight Investment and Legal & General Investment Management.

“Coming into 2020, these firms were already seen by institutional clients as delivering superior levels of service that differentiated them from other mangers,” says Greenwich Associates Managing Director Markus Ohlig. “Now, over the course of the COVID-19 crisis, they have actually widened the distance between themselves and the competition.”

ESG Proves Resilient in Crisis
With the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, asset managers that had been making major investments to build out capabilities in environmental, social and governance investing had good reason to fear that the crisis would disrupt the uptake of ESG by institutional investors in Europe. Like so much else in 2020, this fear never came to pass. In fact, the dislocations caused by the pandemic appears to be accelerating the adoption of ESG in Europe.

“As investors make changes to their allocations and manager relationships, they are taking this opportunity to integrate ESG criteria into their investment processes and portfolios,” says Greenwich Associates Principal Mark Buckley

Three quarters of European institutions now take ESG criteria into account when selecting asset managers — up from just half as recently as two years ago. In the midst of the pandemic, a quarter of institutions continue to work on projects to better incorporate ESG factors into their investment approaches. 

Click here for the list of 2020 Greenwich Quality Leaders in Overall Continental European and German Institutional Investment Management
Click here for the list of 2020 Greenwich Quality Leaders in Overall U.K. Institutional Investment Management Service