"No looking back": Q&A with Rob Adams on the merger of Janus and Henderson August 2017

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In late May this year, Janus Capital and Henderson Group completed the merger of equals to form Janus Henderson Group. Following a busy few months, we catch up with former Henderson boss Rob Adams in his expanded role as the merged firm's head of pan Asia. Rob tells us how the merger has been received in the market, the reaction from Janus' largest shareholder and about his 'dream jobs' that could have been if he hadn't been hooked by the finance industry 30 years ago.

What has been the reaction so far from your Australian institutional clients to the merger?

The reaction from institutional clients has been positive – both here in Australia and internationally.

Clients from both businesses understand the strategic rationale and benefits of the deal – we can now offer a far broader range of investment capabilities and we are even better resourced to help our clients. Our businesses are highly complementary, both in terms of geography and investment capabilities, which has meant there has been no impact to the majority of our investment teams.

The firm made the decision to keep both the Janus and Henderson investment teams because, to quote you, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. How is this working so far, and will this continue to be the set up?

As mentioned, the investment capabilities across both Janus and Henderson are largely complementary.

In terms of overall structure, Henderson’s investment teams are largely structured with dedicated analysts on each team supporting portfolio managers, whilst Janus have a central research team, providing input to various portfolio managers. We are very comfortable with these different approaches, they have delivered to our clients and hence we have no plans to change these structures.

Janus Capital had a competitive advantage in accessing the Japanese pension market through its alliance with The Dai Chi Life Insurance Company. How does the merger affect this relationship?

Dai-ichi has been an investor in Janus since 2012 and was the firm’s largest shareholder. Owning 20% of the stock, Dai-ichi was the first shareholder to throw its support and commitment behind the merger - a testament to its belief in the team and rationale of the transaction. They have been a terrific partner for Janus and they have expressed their desire to continue to be a great partner for Janus Henderson.

While its holding was diluted via the merger process, Dai-ichi has stated its intention to acquire at least 15 per cent of Janus Henderson. A further sign of this commitment has been seen through investments Dai-ichi has already made in Henderson investment capabilities.

What do you feel constitutes the ‘new breed of asset manager'?

I’m not sure there is necessarily a “new breed of asset manager”…it’s more that there are new requirements and expectations of any asset manager today and looking forward. Today’s asset manager needs to be fully aware of the new environment that we are operating in, and will for the foreseeable future. They must ensure that they are meeting and hopefully exceeding investor expectations, which themselves have changed to reflect the new environment.

The “new environment” is characterised by a broad range of things – far closer/deeper regulatory scrutiny, lower volatility and likely lower investment returns, new distribution delivery mechanisms, ongoing fee pressures, a possible opening up of more cross-border investment, more pervasive impacts from technology and more.

It is critical that today’s asset managers take these trends into account in managing their business, allocating scarce resources, devising and managing investment strategies and in servicing their clients.

With your expanded role now covering Asia Pacific, will your responsibilities change?

My role with Henderson covered our Pan Asian businesses and my role at Janus Henderson does as well.

Janus Henderson across the region manages AUM of US$52 billion, or about 16% of assets managed globally by the group. We have nine investment teams in the region and in general we now have a stronger presence in all key markets in Pan Asia. The footprint in Pan Asia for the merged firm provides us with a stronger platform for stronger future growth.

Pan Asia is an exciting region for us. Higher economic growth, a burgeoning middle class, significant future shifts of assets to retirement phase, current low mutual fund penetration rates and the fact that two of the world’s largest pension markets are in this region, all combine to suggest that Pan Asia should be a very interesting place for us into the future.

And a little about you Rob

What initially lead you into a career in the finance industry?

Given my Father’s background in financial services, I always had an interest in the sector, which led me to doing a business degree. I started with MLC Investments on their graduate rotation programme back in early 1987, and the amazing events of that year meant I was hooked!

There has been no looking back since then. I am now in my 30th year in this industry…how time flies!

Who has had the biggest influence on your career so far?

My Father. He started at the bottom in financial services, stayed patient, worked hard and ended up running an ASX100 firm. His example showed me what could be done and how to do it.

I would also say that people “stories” in general have had the greatest influence on me. I have been lucky enough to work in businesses that have had long periods of true growth, which provided people with opportunities they may not have gained elsewhere. Seeing how quality people positively respond to those opportunities has been inspirational.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

I probably don’t at times!

Trying to stay level-headed, realising you can’t control everything, and putting everything into perspective are important rules to me that help to ensure I balance things out as much as I can.

If you weren’t in Finance, where would you be?

My dream job has always been to be a green-keeper on an A-grade golf course! Or to join the World Poker Tour!

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