The global asset manager TCW reached some key deals with Italian lenders last year, as it pushed on implementation of its efforts in the country (first started in mid-2016) focusing first on fund buyers and unit linked business, but later increasing its offering to distribution networks.
In October 2017, TCW reached a distribution agreement with CheBanca! – the retail bank of Mediobanca Group – dedicated to savings and investments. In December the manager struck a deal with UniCredit’s subsidiary FinecoBank – one of the main financial advisory networks in Italy – enabling TCW to further expand its presence in Italy.
Both agreements concerned TCW’s four flagship strategies: the TCW Funds MetWest Total Return Bond and MetWest Unconstrained Bond funds, and two focused on EM; TCW Funds Emerging Markets Income and Emerging Markets Local Currency Income funds.
Gian Luca Giurlani, managing director and responsible for the development of the Ucits platform in Europe at TCW, said: “TCW is entering into Italians’ portfolios, through these channels. This is how we’re building the brand in the local market. The decision to select a limited offering in comparison to the products of the Sicav is a choice aimed at the customer experience: through these four funds, we hope to deliver an excellent experience to clients.”
TCW has always considered the Italian market as a strategic one, and has already unveiled plans to increase the number of local people involved in the business development process there, Giurlani (pictured) said.
“TCW’s growth project in Italy and Europe has been in place for just over a year. I see this project as a vessel that has just left the port. We’re yet to pick up speed, but the very first steps have been very important. When I joined the firm in 2016, the Sicav had just under €600m, while today we have reached some €1.6bn and our Unconstrained strategy is close to €1bn. This is just the beginning, there is a lot work to do.”
The business plan focused on the Ucits platform also includes two other key markets alongside Italy: UK and Switzerland. These have been prioritised in the region while recognising that they represent mature and highly competitive markets. Giurlani notes that this necessitates demonstrating the capability to add value in order to gain recognition among the significant spectrum of offerings already available.
Giurlani added: “When faced with European markets, TCW can count on two peculiarities. Firstly, the active management of fixed income funds – which are still very in demand in markets such the Italian one –where we deliver returns thanks to a very active, value-oriented fixed income philosophy, which is something that most asset managers don’t apply.
“Secondly, in Europe we’re known as primary players in the fixed income space and this gives us the chance to cultivate our interest in a virgin and fertile field for us. To penetrate this market, one needs stable and consistent products, which is something we do have in the fixed income and emerging markets spaces.”
Looking ahead, Giurlani unveiled TCW’s plans for possibly launching equity strategies as well as expanding its business across Europe – particularly in Germany, France and Spain – where it has already registered some funds.