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Robert Haim

Robert Haim, 49, considers himself “a career insurance analyst.

JPMorgan Asset Management


Robert Haim, 49, considers himself “a career insurance analyst.” With nearly 23 years on the job — including the past 11 at JPMorgan Asset Management in London — Haim “is one of the most knowledgeable analysts in the sector, and his experience is of great value,” according to one sell-side enthusiast.

Appearing for the first time on Europe’s Best of the Buy Side, Haim says at JPMorgan his success is measured through stock selection rather than market or sector calls. “My key task is to make sure we pick the right stocks for our portfolios,” he explains. “I spend a large part of my time modeling companies, following the publication of results and visiting companies, to make sure we pick the outperformers.”

He has built financial models for about 40 insurers, and he uses them to gauge valuation via proprietary metrics — for example, intrinsic value — to determine which stocks are fundamentally cheap as well as which ones exhibit strong quality of earnings and balance sheets. Regular face-to-face meetings with managements, three to four times a year, help him keep his assumptions up-to-date.

This approach enabled Haim to identify early on the “massive issues” facing the sector and “the likely impact on financial markets,” because many insurance companies had expanded into the financial services realm and were exposed to toxic securitized assets such as subprime mortgages. In mid-2007 he began advising portfolio managers to underweight life insurers and focus instead on property/casualty insurers, which had only limited exposure to financial services.

Haim says the time has come to change that view. “The huge sell-off in the life names in 2009 to date has been an opportunity to reduce underweights,” he says, although he declines to identify specific companies he has been recommending to managers.

A 1981 graduate of Durham University with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Haim began his career as an insurance analyst when he joined Kleinwort Benson in 1986. He joined JPMorgan in 1998.

“Rob’s approach is one of simple pragmatism,” observes one of his sell-side counterparts. “He buys the cheapest stocks based on his own proprietary screen of valuation, and he has a good sense of timing in his decisions. In addition, he has a good understanding of the European insurance industry, while admitting he does not know it all. He leverages the sell side to fill in the gaps and extend his knowledge in an efficient and effective way.”

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