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Swiss boutique partners Bell AM to broaden equity offering

Swiss boutique partners Bell AM to broaden equity offering

UBP has partnered Australia’s Bell Asset Management to broaden its equity offering for private and institutional clients.

The partnership targets new investors in Australia, Asia and Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the Swiss boutique said Wednesday.  

UBP recently opened an asset management branch in Australia to support the partnership, that is led by Olivier Marion (pictured), head of business development for Australia. 

Marion, previously a Geneva-based senior investment specialist for alternative investments, has relocated to Melbourne for the role, Citywire Asia understands. 

As the bank’s only representative in Australia, he will be supported by its group platform and Bell AM’s infrastructure and resources in the country. 

Founded in 2003, Bell AM uses an active, bottom-up, fundamental and ‘quality at reasonable price’ approach and is highly-regarded in the small and mid-cap space, UBP said. 

It added that the manager’s investing and ESG expertise complements its current range of solutions. 

UBP will also start marketing its strategies in Australia with the partnership. This includes global absolute return, high yield and emerging market debt products; alternative solutions such as hedge funds, convertible bonds and private markets; and traditional assets with an ESG tilt.

In return, Bell AM will tap on UBP’s distribution channels in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The bank has asset management branches in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo, and private banking operations in Hong Kong and Singapore. 

Investment draw

UBP’s Marion observed a growing appetite for actively-managed strategies and relatively untapped investment opportunities, given volatile markets. 

Reasons to consider small and mid-caps include their fundamental outperformance versus large, emerging market and small cap stocks over the past decade, he said. 

‘Presently, many high quality small and mid-cap companies are  trading below their long-term average.

‘A small and mid-cap exposure allows investors to complement mega and large cap exposures and help mitigate against concentration risk,’ Marion told Citywire Asia.

Ned Bell, CIO of Bell AM, noted that the biggest challenges of the space are balance sheet and liquidity risks. 

The Citywire A-rated manager of the Bell Global Emerging Companies fund and the Bell Global Equities fund said their position hasn’t ‘changed materially’ since the Covid-19 outbreak. 

But the funds have added names like Chr Hansen, Ecolab, Idexx Laboratories, Moody’s and Straumann with the sell-off.

They have respectively returned 7% and 8.7% in USD terms over the year to 31 May, according to Citywire data. 

‘Earnings risk has been an important driver of individual stock performance for the current year. The current year earnings estimates for the MSCI World SMID Index have fallen by 40%,’ Bell shared.

‘At this point in time we have no plans to explore other partnerships with private banks. Our partnership with UBP will go a long way to building our exposure to Europe, Asia and the Middle East,’ he said.