Too early to call market turn, Schroders CEO says

It is too early to call an end to financial market falls driven by the Ukraine war, the chief executive of Schroders (SDR.L) said on Thursday, as the British fund manager’s shares hit six-week highs on an uptick in assets under management.

Asset managers have been suffering from a drop in markets following the invasion of Ukraine, which Russia calls a “special military operation”, while high inflation has also forced savers to tighten their belts.

World stocks (.MIWD00000PUS) have fallen 10% since the start of the conflict in February, though they have moved above their lows in the past few days.

“It’s going to remain difficult,” Peter Harrison told Reuters, pointing to the likelihood of a “long war” in Ukraine.

“You’re going to have sustained uncertainty on energy prices, inflation being more sticky, particularly in the UK. It took us five years to recover from 2007-08, we’re not looking to call the turn.”

Schroders’ shares jumped 4.5% to six-week highs, making it one of the top performers in the FTSE 100 (.FTSE), as the company bucked a trend for falling assets seen in other fund managers with a 1% rise in AUM to 773 billion pounds ($941.51 billion) in the first half.

KBW analysts described Schroders’ results as “solid”, reiterating their “market perform” rating on the stock.

The asset manager said it had seen appetite for higher-returning assets such as private equity, and also for its wealth management division.

It reported net inflows of 8.4 billion pounds, helped also by its recent purchase of River & Mercantile’s pensions solutions business.

But more traditional sectors of mutual funds and institutional clients had net outflows of 2.9 billion and 7.6 billion pounds respectively.

Harrison said the asset manager did not have further near-term acquisition plans.

“We are sitting on our hands. With the world we’re in today, understanding the real earnings power of a business…is very hard.” But he added there were “lots of conversations inevitably always going on in the background.”

Also on Thursday, St James’s Place (SJP.L) reported a 7% fall in AUM for the first half, and Rathbones (RAT.L) reported a 14% drop in assets under management and administration.

($1 = 0.8210 pounds)