Garth Rossler does not believe his job as managing director of Maple Brown Abbott means change at the $10 billion asset manager.
The Durban, South African born Rossler has worked at the Sydney-based Maple Brown Abbot for 15 years. He believes continuity in fund management is what is required.
“At the end of the day it’s all about keeping your clients satisfied,” he says. “Without that it doesn’t work.”
Rossler, 55, says expansion for his closely-held firm will come in Asia. But he is content to have all his staff in Sydney and not open an Asian office even if that means a hectic travel schedule for the 17 people in his investment team that seeks to buy stocks it considers cheap relative to their assets and earnings.
“With the whole investment team together there is cross pollination of ideas,” says Rossler.
Maple Brown Abbott has about $1 billion in Asian investments managed by seven people.
Most of the firm’s clients that invest in Asia are not Australian.
“Australian super funds have been slower to invest directly in Asia than we thought,” says Rossler. “Asia doesn’t fit cleanly in any of the investment boxes. That will change.”
Rossler is just the third managing director of Maple Brown Abbot since 1984 when Robert Maple-Brown founded the firm. Maple-Brown remains the firm’s chairman.
After joining Maple Brown Abbot in 1997 Rossler was named a director in 1999. Ten years later he took over the firm from John Kightley. Rossler is also the firm’s chief investment officer. He leaves much of the day-to-day running of the firm to chief operating officer Richard Grundy.
“Most of my time is spent managing investments,” says Rossler.
Volatility in financial markets is scaring investors while term deposit rates are attractive, sucking money away from asset managers who manage stock funds such as Maple Brown Abbott.
“People are very cautious. The industry is suffering outflows. Clients who have options are going to cash,” says Rossler.
He says the Australian asset management industry is going through “tough times” that may result in some smaller fund management companies merging or going out of business.
“We’re set for a period of consolidation,” says Rossler. “Everybody is looking at their cost base.”
He says there is still room for boutique asset managers because their access to information is almost as good as multinational fund managers.
“We prefer to hire people at a junior level and train them up in our style,” says Rossler.