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Ninety One’s Nigel Smith reflects on a decade of investment industry innovation and forecasts a greener future | Ten Year Retrospective

Nigel Smith

Part of our series of retrospective blogs celebrating IFA Magazine’s ten year anniversary, Nigel Smith, Managing Director of the UK client group, Ninety One highlights the change the investment industry has undergone over the past decade and forecasts an ESG-focused future for the world of investment. 

How has the world of investment changed over the last 10 years? 

“The past decade has brought about more change and innovation to our industry than anyone could have predicted. In terms of savings, we have seen the onus shift towards individuals to fund their long term retirement goals. Coupled with changing demographics and longer retirement periods, there are more choices and decisions for present day retirees.

“The need for a long term investment horizon has become an increasingly prominent theme over the past decade, to navigate a turbulent period that included the financial crisis, EU referendum and ultimately Brexit, and most recently the global pandemic. In contrast to the short term focus and premium on immediacy we see elsewhere in our daily lives, taking a long term investment view has perhaps never been more important.”

The forward look: changes afoot in the world of investment

“We now find ourselves at the critical juncture in tackling climate change. When we think about the mission to reduce carbon, including the umbrella Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative that we’re pleased to support, we strongly believe this must include the entire world. Specifically, the currently carbon-intensive emerging market economies; they need time, encouragement and resources to adjust. The asset management industry has a sizeable obligation, but exciting opportunity, to play a leading role in mobilising capital to safeguard our planet’s future. We have always believed that active management can be a force for good.

“Climate change is one of five mega-themes we are focused on, alongside the rise of China, technological disruption, demographic changes and historic debt levels, where we are helping investors think through how they can make the most of these opportunities in their portfolios.”

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