Die Deutsche Bank, das Asset Management und die apokalyptischen Reiter

Von Heinz-Roger Dohms

Die Deutsche Bank will in diesem Jahr ihren Asset Manager DWS an die Börse bringen. Vor diesem Hintergrund ist nicht ganz uninteressant, wie kritisch das hauseigene Research die Perspektiven der Branche sieht. So ist in der Mitte Januar erschienenen DBank-Studie „13 Tipping points in 2018“  von den „vier (apokalyptischen) Reitern“ die Rede, die die Profitablität  unter Druck setzten. „Finanz-Szene.de“dokumentiert die wichtigsten Aussagen der Untersuchung:

  • „With threats from the rise of passive products, regulation, technology and a possible downturn on the horizon, active investment is already on its way to becoming significantly less profitable.“
  • „The question is what asset managers will do in response to this threat and whether 2018 will see a tipping point that leads the most exposed players – bank and insurance-owned asset managers, here known as proprietary asset managers – to pursue consolidation or specialisation. Either way, the status quo is increasingly unviable“
  • „The first threat to asset management’s profitability comes from passive products. The trend is as predictable as any in financial services. In early 1995, passive investment was just three per cent of funds under management. By 2005, that figure had grown to 15 per cent and is now double that. Current trends imply a shift to 40-50 per cent by the end of the decade. That would imply further fee pressures, pushing industry earnings down a further 12 per cent over the next three years. There is probably an upper limit to the passive juggernaut, but there is no indication it will be reached anytime soon.“
  • „The second threat is a regulatory shift in most major jurisdictions from suitability to fiduciary metrics. Suitability asks whether the product makes sense for a client whereas a fiduciary criterion would ascertain whether there are better alternatives. Regulatory developments, like the UK’s Retail Distribution Review, are attempting to reduce conflicts of interest whereby an asset manager rewards their distributor for pushing their product over those of a competitor. Even the US Department of Labour, under the deregulatory impetus of President Trump, does not appear to have backtracked on its instatement of a fiduciary responsibility for asset managers.“
  • „The third is the push towards transparency from technology, globalisation and regulation across many industries. The possibility of an Amazon-type investment platform could appear. If it gained prominence, it would increase pressure on margins. Moreover, the implementation of Mifid II regulations is also increasing disclosure on costs, allowing clients to better understand their cumulative net returns on investment. Over time, this greater transparency is also likely to weigh on returns.“
  • „Finally, after eight years of a bull market adding natural buoyancy to assets under management, earnings cyclicality can be underestimated. Look at what happened in 2008-2009. Profits halved for the major US asset managers. The cost-to-income ratio (operating costs / operating income) increased to 63 per cent from 55 per cent, while pre-tax margins declined to 37 per cent from 53 per cent. Following an extended bull market it is sometimes difficult to differentiate between an alpha and beta of the industry cycle.“