Interview with Jean-Louis Laurens - AFG

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In this month’s interview, Jean-Louis Laurens, French Asset Management Association (AFG) international ambassador, discusses the recent launch of a partnership at EDHEC-Risk Institute supported by AFG on risk management as a source of performance, as well as the main challenges and perspectives for the French asset management industry and for AFG for the future.


AFG and EDHEC-Risk Institute have launched a partnership on risk management as a source of performance. Could you tell us why you decided to focus on this specific area?


The French asset management industry is at the forefront of many sophisticated fields. The French Asset Management Association (AFG) is keen to highlight the French “know-how”, but has decided to initially focus on “Risk Management as a Source of Performance”.

This field is a particularly relevant one, and many French asset managers have done considerable research on this topic, either on risk premia within asset classes (equities & bonds) or risk premia across asset classes (multi asset products and solutions).

This is the reason why we have decided to launch this digital outreach, in partnership with EDHEC-Risk Institute, focusing on an area which represents the new frontiers of asset management.


This digital outreach project with EDHEC-Risk is designed to be an effective presentation of technical and conceptual challenges involved in the design of innovative forms of welfare-improving investment solutions building upon expertise developed within the French investment management industry. Could you tell us more about what AFG is seeking to accomplish with this initiatives?

Through this initiative, AFG is willing to share both academic and French asset management specific research conclusions with a large panel of institutional investors and asset owners worldwide. We are convinced that French asset managers are at the forefront of innovation, and more specifically of designing innovative forms of risk management.


What are the main changes you’ve noticed in the world of asset management over the last few years? How well positioned is the French asset management Industry in Europe and more generally with respect to both sides of the Atlantic?

On both sides of the Atlantic, there is a fast growing awareness in the asset management sector that digital and new technologies are going to deeply transform and even disrupt our industry, with the possibility to better know your individual investor through data analytics, and tailor-made solutions offering. These solutions could provide access to the most sophisticated and advanced asset management technics, and more specifically risk premia allocation, while managing risk, at any time in line with the client’s objectives. In the asset management industry, we are more and more entering in a logic of mass customized solutions, whereas standardized products have characterized the asset management industry in the past.

Whilst the US remain the most advanced asset management market, many French asset managers have been able to bring innovative techniques such as smart beta or risk premia allocation to this market with great success.


What made you decide to partner with EDHEC-Risk Institute on this digital outreach project?

We have a long standing collaboration with EDHEC-Risk Institute, and we know quite well their areas of expertise. EDHEC-Risk Institute Research Centre has a broad international reach and recognition, and is also very good in building marketing and communications strategies.

Therefore, EDHEC-Risk Institute is for us the right partner for this digital outreach.


About Jean-Louis Laurens

Jean-Louis Laurens is AFG’s International Ambassador, after serving as managing partner and chairman of the management committee of Rothschild & Cie Gestion since 2009. From 2005 to 2009, he led Robeco’s French subsidiaries before becoming worldwide head of the group’s asset management activities. From 1999 to 2005, he held the positions of deputy CEO of AXA Investment Managers and chairman and CEO of AXA IM France, Benelux, Italy and Spain. From 1995 to 1999, he served as chairman of the management board of Dresdner Kleinwort Benson. He began his career at HSBC before joining Morgan Stanley in 1993 as deputy CEO in Paris, international executive director and co-head of corporate finance for France. Mr Laurens speaks French, English and German, is a graduate of HEC and has a doctorate in economics.

About the French Asset Management Association (AFG)

The French Asset Management Association (Association Française de la Gestion Financière, AFG) is the professional organisation representing the French asset management industry. EDHEC-Risk Institute and AFG launched on September 2017 a digital outreach partnership on "Financial Risk Management as a Source of Performance"

AFG is an active member of EFAMA and PensionsEurope.