How it all began: 1968–2016
Universal-Investment was founded as an independent asset management company by leading private banks on 4 November 1968. Our company offered what was arguably the first original administration platform in Germany. This makes us one of the pioneers in the investment industry. In that same year, we launched the first special institutional fund – with five part-time employees.
Development & market positioning
The first private label fund followed in 1970, along with our own business premises and the first full-time employee. With no fewer than 10 employees, we were already managing 60 million deutschmarks of assets in the mid-1970s.
By 1980, the volume had reached 1 billion deutschmarks. Growth increased significantly, enhancing our reputation on the market as a specialist supplier. Almost 20 years after our foundation, computers were also introduced into our company.
In 1987, the first IBM ATs – AT standing for advanced technology – were installed, and the 100th fund was launched.
The 1990s boom
1992 was a very special year for Universal-Investment: the birth of our Master-KAG.
The launch of the first Master Fund was the starting point of the business that defines us on the market today and is a major hallmark of our success story – as pioneer and specialist in Master-KAGs.
Back then, Universal-Investment was already showing that it pays to be courageous with innovations, new products and visions.
Another innovation came three years later, when the first bond fund managed on the basis of a computerised trend-tracking system was launched.
This brought the total of our funds on the market to 86 special funds for institutional investors and 43 mutual funds. Since 1997, we have been offering transition management on our platform, and in 1998, rules-based asset management became a component of our business model – at that time, with 42 employees.
It pays to be courageous with innovations, new products and visions!
Turn of the millennium and an innovative boost
The turn of the millennium represented a big step forward for our company.
We founded Universal-Investment-Luxembourg S.A. and thus laid the foundation for our cross-national platform, which can still be called unique.
The next quantitative milestone came in 2005, when we chalked up €50 billion in managed assets. Two years later, we added insourcing to our portfolio of offerings, enabling us to provide our services to other investment companies and custodians.
Universal-Investment used the 2009 amendment to the Investment Act as an opportunity to found its own investment public limited company. The more than €100 billion in managed assets were a great source of pride for us at that time. By then at the latest, our company had become an established name on the German-speaking market and was now one of the top players. The following year saw the launch of our securitisation company Universal Securitisation Solutions S.A. in Luxembourg. And here is another record: then for the first time, Universal-Investment was administering more than 1,000 fund mandates
Universal-Investment – an established name in the German-speaking market!
The 2010s: Diversity in specialisation
In 2011, we added an asset class to our product portfolio that is playing an increasingly important role for our clients: the administration of real estate.
We then made another major technological advance in 2012 with the introduction of the PowerPortal, which gives our clients uninterrupted access to detailed reports via desktop and mobile devices. By acquiring SEB Master KAG, we further expanded our array of products and services to include the asset class hedge funds.
We also developed and very successfully expanded our solutions to enable custom-fit structuring of alternative investments, such as infrastructure, private equity or private debt, initially for institutional investors and later also for fund initiators.
Four years ago, Universal-Investment was one of the first investment management companies in Germany and Luxembourg to be granted an AIFM license, allowing us to also launch closed-end funds. At that time, our team was already managing more than €200 billion in assets.
Pride in our accomplishments: 2017 to today
Let us turn to the present. Where do we stand today?
As an investment management company that launches funds on behalf of asset managers, banks or investment boutiques under their names, or manages special institutional funds for major pension funds, insurance companies and pension plans as well as for companies and foundations, we have become the market leader in our segment thanks to our successful growth story.
And we are Germany’s third-largest fund company. In 2017, we recorded the highest fund sales in Germany by a very wide margin, and we currently manage assets in excess of €400 billion.
Universal-Investment are 650 employees, with more than 50 in Luxembourg.
New structure, new shareholder
Our company has gained fresh momentum from a new shareholder. At the beginning of 2017, the British Montagu Private Equity acquired the interests of the shareholders Berenberg and Bankhaus Lampe in Universal-Investment. Our independence is therefore still preserved. For our investor, which supports the successful business model and high growth momentum of Universal-Investment, this independence is also of equal importance.
We have established a new structure for our key client groups – institutional investors and fund initiators. A single front-end that serves as interface for all clients has been set up for handling the acquisition and management of all client groups, with three new product units supplying the products and services:
- Securities: Efficient launch and administration of securities funds with the core products Master-KVG and private label funds
- Alternative investments: Individual structuring and concepts for investments in real estate and alternative investments, such as real assets
- Portfolio management using rules-based concepts such as overlay management or currency hedging
What else have we achieved? We have established a company-wide target operating model. We succeeded in winning the largest Master-KVG mandate in Germany, to the tune of more than €20 billion.
Universal-Investment can boast a 20% annual growth rate across all three product units
According to the current PwC ManCo Survey, Universal-Investment offers the largest AIFM ManCo in Luxembourg; we rank first among the third-party ManCos, too.
We have also made other important investments in the area of digitalisation, with the first process automation robots for B2B digitalisation already in use today.
What will be: Eyes firmly on the future
Our goal is clear: to grow assets under management to 500 billion euros by 2023.
We want to become the largest fund service platform for all asset classes in Europe - through organic growth as well as through acquisitions, including specialist providers that will complement our range of products and services, and through expansion abroad.
One cornerstone of this strategy is our branch that we are establishing in Krakow, Poland, and the associated investments in additional jobs. Our goal is therefore to not only boost efficiency but also attract further talent.
Digitalization and regulation shaping the world of today and tomorrow
The major long-term issues facing the financial sector of the future are regulation and digitalisation, with the two issues interdependent. Faced with tightening regulatory requirements, our clients want a partner who supports them in this process and drives the market with innovations.
The demands are increasing and with them the need for solutions. Universal-Investment will be a pioneer here.
We are currently incorporating a major development into our daily investment operations that involves expanding our IT infrastructure with software robots, for instance. Multiple cross-system processes will thus become automated. Employees will be relieved of routine tasks, and clients will benefit from fast solutions.
The theme of artificial intelligence is also steadily making headway in the asset management industry. The first successful projects can be found in investment strategy. But many potential application areas also lie in fund administration.
Nevertheless, the most important thing has been and always will be people developing ideas, driving information, cultivating client relationships and working in a team.
Here is to the next 50 years!