Having held the role of Vice President at BPI Asset Management & Trust Group for more than five years, this veritable fund manager is no stranger to the business. Now taking on the role as President and CIO of BPI Investment Management Inc since the start of the year, he’s got grand plans for the company. “We’re currently trying to be innovators in product development by launching unique funds in response to the changing needs of our clientele,” Martin says.
The banker admits, however, that intense competition, particularly in the variable insurance space, is forcing the firm to review its fee structure and distribution channels. “Being the largest mutual fund operator in the country, market share is for us to lose. Therefore, we’ve begun to lower our fees as a way to protect our dominant share,” Martin admits.
“More importantly, lowering our fees allows for affordability as we move towards downstream retail customers. The other strategic intent of lowering fees is for us to be competitive with regional funds. Offshore distribution of our funds is something we are looking at as a potential growth area,” he adds.
As one of oldest and the largest mutual fund companies in the country, backed by one of the largest banks as well, Martin says BPI helps to reassure clients of the brand’s longevity and stability. “We leverage off the bank’s assets and reputation for prudent risk-taking in providing a safe and stable environment for long-term clients,” he says. “We are constantly in the process of developing funds that allow for broader diversification and risk management for our clientele, thus creating a one-stop shop environment.”
“We are constantly in the process of developing funds that allow for broader diversification and risk management for our clientele, thus creating a one-stop shop environment.”
As for the future, Martin foresees a growing middle class along with a sustained rise in income in the Philippines. “As a result, investment management is starting to make inroads with the youth as their disposable income grows. Whereas the thinking a decade ago was to tap retirees for their savings, nowadays it’s to help millennials save up for their retirement,” he says.
In terms of the company’s long-term goals, Martin explains that it is taking a two-pronged approach. “One is to increase our partnerships with wholesale distributors, and the other is to go downstream, perhaps with fintech, towards smaller, bite-sized and more frequent top-ups. We couple this with continued product development and innovation to sustain our medium to long-term growth trajectory.”
As for Martin’s leadership philosophy, he aims to extract the best performance with the limited resources available – particularly with human resources. “We strive to win and we make it a point that everyone’s contribution to this victory, is recognised. But should there be a failure in the systems or strategies, it is my responsibility to take care of it.”
“We strive to win and we make it a point that everyone’s contribution to this victory, is recognised. But should there be a failure in the systems or strategies, it is my responsibility to take care of it.”