Franklin Resources Inc., the money manager that features Benjamin Franklin in its logo, is building the team managing insurers’ funds as retail clients retreat from bonds at a record pace.
Mark Whitford, 40, was hired from Brookfield Asset Management Inc. as actuarial investment strategist for the insurance group, and Costas Komodromos was named business head of global insurance asset management solutions, San Mateo, California-based Franklin said today in a statement. Whitford plans to recruit two risk analysts to the 12-person insurance team and add clients, he said in an e-mail.
Investors have pulled $70.7 billion from fixed-income mutual funds industrywide so far this year, amid concern that bonds will decline when the Federal Reserve scales back its stimulus, surpassing a record set in 1994, TrimTabs Investment Research said today. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase and Co. are among firms vying to add fee income by catering to insurance companies pressured by low bond yields and increased government oversight.
“Regulatory changes, weak global economic growth and an extended period of low interest rates have increasingly spurred insurance companies to further rely on third-party asset managers,” Komodromos said in today’s statement. “This growth in demand has spurred us to increase our focus and expand our infrastructure.”
Franklin advanced 28 percent this year in New York trading, matching the gain of the 81-company Standard & Poor’s 500 Financials Index. BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest asset manager with $4.1 trillion, has jumped 41 percent. Clients withdrew $8.5 billion from Franklin’s fixed-income funds in the three months ended Sept. 30.
Franklin had $870.6 billion under management as of Nov. 30, with $358.7 billion in fixed-income funds and $361 billion in stock funds. The company oversaw more than $64 billion for insurers as of Sept. 30, according to today’s statement. New York-based Goldman Sachs manages $133 billion for insurance clients, according to June 30 figures on the company’s website.
Goldman Sachs hired Neil Moge from JPMorgan to lead a London-based team overseeing investments for insurers, according to an August memo. JPMorgan said in June that it hired Prashant Sharma from Goldman Sachs as head of international fixed-income investments for insurers.
At Brookfield, Whitford helped design investment strategies for insurance clients. He has a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science from the University of Connecticut, Franklin said.
“We plan to increase our insurance general account book by enhancing what we have to offer our clients,” Whitford said in an e-mailed response to questions.
Komodromos is responsible for business development at the insurance asset management unit. Franklin also said today that Michael Materasso of the fixed-income group is adding the role of head of insurance investment solutions.
Andrew Willis, a spokesman for Brookfield in Toronto, declined to comment.
–With assistance from Katia Dmitrieva in Toronto. Editors: Dan Kraut, Dan Reichl