BT Asset Management SAI is the fourth largest asset management company in Romania and a member of Banca Transilvania Financial Group. Banca Transilvania as a core business is currently the largest bank in Romania, with over 500 branches across the country, and also a regional player.
Aurel Bernat is the CEO of BT Asset Management SAI following almost 15 years within the asset management company, coming from a banking background and having achieved an EMBA at the University of Hull in the UK. He spoke to Wanda Rich, editor, Global Banking & Finance Review about a number of factors behind the company’s continued success, including its ‘keep it simple’ approach to making investment accessible and the support it offers to young investors.
Congratulations on your award-winning success. BT Asset Management SAI has experienced significant growth since its establishment. What do you attribute this to?
Thank you for congratulating us – we are honoured and proud to have the recognition from your side. Since our establishment in 2005 we’ve had an extraordinary journey, reaching a new milestone for BT Asset Management SAI during 2020 of more than 4 billion RON assets under management (roughly 800 million EUR) from over 40,000 customers. We can attribute our development to the significant growth in the local financial market of Banca Transilvania, our group leader. Since Banca Transilvania is the largest bank in Romania, the distribution network allowed us excellent national coverage and access to a large customer base. On the other hand, the last years of strong growth for the Romanian economy have been a trigger for success in our field of competence.
Can you tell us more about your investment philosophy?
Simple and performant products. The ‘keep it simple’ philosophy is something that we cherish, since investments should be considered easy to deal with, available to a large customer base and an automatic behaviour. Meanwhile, performance is a key factor in the asset management industry, so we offer our customers predictable and high-performing products. Both features are extremely important in a retail-oriented business.
How are your investment advisors helping to guide investors during this challenging time?
Transparency is vital in our business, since a viable and consistent information flow is relevant to all investors. We choose to inform our customers on a weekly basis concerning the evolution of their investments and the market status, considering ourself as a reliable source of financial information and a solid ground for future investment decisions. Our commitment is emphasised by ongoing training of the entire distribution network and among the few asset managers, with a dedicated call centre service for both customers and prospects.
Are there any funds you’d like to discuss?
During the last three years, BT Asset Management SAI has been one of the most active asset managers in Romania in terms of newly-launched funds. We developed a new product line comprising four thematic funds which are energy, technology, real estate and agriculture, investing in both the European market as well as the US. This strategy led us towards younger customers in search of broader market exposure, and for the future we see these types of funds as our main driver of development. Each retail investor can find among these products something which may exceed their expectations, as long as their goal is focused on long-term – and preferably recurrent – investment.
What investment strategy do you recommend to young people entering the workforce and looking to start investing?
Recurrent investing is likely to be the best strategy for the time being. Recurrency is easy to handle, can be started with small amounts of investment and since it is an automated process, should deliver a high degree of commitment and fulfilment by the end of each day. This type of strategy perfectly suits young investors who are not accustomed to market timing or exhaustive research, but have the will and power to act for their own future success.
What is your strategy for continued growth and success?
Enjoying each project and each step forward, and not a single day passing without a smaller or larger corporate accomplishment. We are extremely positive about future development, since the asset management market has a low input in local GDP, which gives us the chance to increase our assets under management level at a faster pace. The monetary and financial context is favourable for our industry, low interest rates being a key element for a higher investing awareness and increasing the search for viable alternatives. If we add the future COVID-19 vaccination progress and a strong global economy response, the year ahead should be an outstanding one for BT Asset Management SAI.