This content is from: Portfolio

Aviva Investors CEO Tries to Silence Critics

Before British insurer Aviva’s annual meeting, the CEO of the firm’s asset management business is seeking to placate disgruntled shareholders.

  • Joe McGrath

Euan Munro, chief executive officer of Aviva’s £345 billion ($446 billion) asset management arm, dismissed criticisms of his team’s performance ahead of the firm’s annual meeting Wednesday.

Munro, who became CEO of Aviva Investors in January 2014, said in an interview that he’s “done the job” he was hired to do and that his executive team has “delivered.”

Munro is fending off Aviva shareholder Philip Meadowcroft’s calls to offload the British insurer’s asset management business because the unit isn’t contributing enough profits. While Meadowcroft’s assessment may create some discussion at the annual meeting, Munro said he believes shareholders will recognize the unit’s £2.9 billion of net inflows last year, as well as the 30 percent increase in operating profit from 2015 to £138 million.

“When I first started, we had funds leaving and a dark regulatory background,” said Munro. “I am confident that this is a pace of growth that we can sustain, because in the first couple of years I was coping with the tide going the other way.”

Aviva was being scrutinized by the Financial Conduct Authority when Munro joined the firm. The regulator’s investigation of Aviva Investors culminated in a £17.6 million fine for incentivizing its traders to favor one fund over another, according to an FCA statement in 2015.

Meadowcroft, who is a member of an action group of shareholders pressuring Aviva, didn’t immediately respond to a phone call and email seeking comment.

While Aviva’s £5.6 billion acquisition of Friends Life Group in 2015 bolstered Aviva Investors’ performance by increasing assets under management, Munro said that shareholders should recognize the division’s organic growth.

“The financial numbers do make me look better than I really am, but I would not want you to think there is not a good organic story too,” he said. “It is one I think we can carry on.”

Munro said he has tasked his executive team with diversifying the firm’s offerings by starting new funds in “illiquid areas” such as private credit and structured finance.

Before joining Aviva, Munro was global head of multi-asset investing and fixed-income at Standard Life Investments, where he helped start the £24.5 billion Global Absolute Return Strategies fund.


Correction Note: This story was updated to provide the correct details about the regulatory investigation relating to Aviva Investors when Munro joined the firm.