Citibank Investment Forum V.
For the fifth consecutive year, Citi Greece hosts in Athens 7 leading investment houses.
Athens, November 21, 2013.
Citi Greece presented for the fifth consecutive year the views of seven leading international Investment Houses to more than 1,100 Citigold Personal Banking customers on Tuesday, November 19th, at Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel.
During Citi’s 5th Investment Forum, Citigold clients were exclusively informed on international investments and global market trends from top executives of BlackRock, Franklin Templeton, Invesco, JPMorgan, Pictet, Pioneer Investments and Schroders.
Valentin Valderrabano, Chief Operating Officer Consumer Bank of Citi Greece saluted the event: “For the 5th consecutive year, Citi demonstrates its global outreach by bringing together speakers of the world’s top Fund Houses. Citi is a strong, and stable financial services company and one of the best capitalized financial institutions in the world. 2013 was a year of recognition for Citi Greece which was awarded as the Best Investment Business in Citi Europe, Middle East and Africa region where as in November 2013, Citibank Greece was recognized as the BEST Structured Products Distributor in Greece by the Structured Products & Risk magazine. Wealth Management has a longstanding tradition at Citi and it is one of our unique strengths. The Citi Citigold proposition had its birthplace in Greece when in 1994 Greece was the first European country to offer the Citigold experience to its customers. An experience that provides dedicated relationship managers, investment research and analysis, an open architecture platform for investments, world class products, and banking services.”
Mr. Valderrabano also referred to the 50th anniversary of Citi's presence in Greece, in 2014. “We are proud of Citi’s 50 years anniversary of consecutive presence in Greece. Citi Greece is the largest foreign bank in the country and we look forward to celebrating our 50 year anniversary with our customers. Back in 1964, the opening of the Citibank Athens branch marked the first time that any foreign bank had established an office in Greece. Our presence introduced innovative sources of financing to Greek Commercial Banks and Financial institutions.”
The presentations of the 7 international Investment Houses that offer their products in Greece through Citibank, under the "open architecture” platform, were of particular interest to investors-customers who attended the event. It is worth noting that Citibank was the first to introduce the concept of "open architecture" in the Greek market in 2001, enabling its customers to have a choice through a wide range of investment products offered by renowned Investment Houses from around the world.
Presenting the “Global Government Bonds” asset class, Elsa Goldberg, Vice President & Senior Product Manager at Franklin Templeton, mentioned that the global liquidity conditions remain abundant, despite fears of Fed’s tapering of quantitative easing monetary policy. Furthermore, Franklin Templeton noted that normalization of interest rates from distortedly low levels has already started and is likely to be more long-term in nature. Thus, investor’s opportunities continue to exist in bond markets globally, however individual country selection is essential, especially in emerging markets, since fundamentals differ widely. To summarize, Franklin Templeton identifies opportunities in countries that offer higher short-term interest rates and have undervalued currencies.
David Greene, Client Portfolio Manager at Pioneer Investments, focused on corporate short-term bonds, stressing that the era of low volatility and high returns that characterized bond markets in recent years, appears to be reaching an end. Pioneer Investments also believes that in the near future the bond market climate will reverse and therefore investors should take refuge in short-term bonds or absolute return strategies that have the potential to offer positive returns regardless of bond markets trending up or down.
Andrea Argenti, Managing Director & Head at Retail Sales Blackrock Italy, speaking about asset allocation strategies, emphasized that current market environment is pro equity over bonds. More specifically, for Blackrock, even though equities are not extremely cheap, they are more attractively priced than bonds in terms of risk/return characteristics. At the same time, volatility in equities is likely to increase, which means that in order for the investor to have successful results, Blackrock believes it would be useful to invest in a flexible and selective strategy that holds a long-term perspective, with the aim to achieve equity-like returns but with a lower level of risk.
Joel Copp-Barton, European Equities Product Director at Invesco, focused on European equities and mentioned that the general heightened risk aversion towards Europe has created a number of attractive opportunities within the equity market, particularly in industries such as Financials, and countries such as Spain. According to Invesco, the low starting valuations, historically a key driver of future equity returns, but also the actions of the European Central Bank since 2012, have created a favorable environment for investments in European equities.
Fiona Harris, Vice President & Client Portfolio Manager at JP Morgan Asset Management presented US equities and emphasized that they have performed much better than expected in the last five years. She also mentioned that the outlook for US equities remains favorable mainly because of the strong corporate profitability levels and consistently improving macro-economic environment in the United States. According to JP Morgan Asset Management, despite the short-term uncertainties that create market volatility, investing in high-quality equities that produce strong cash flows can outperform.
Bruno Lippens, Senior Investment Manager at Pictet, speaking on “High Dividend yielding” equities, stressed that in the current economic environment, characterized by weak growth and high levels of private and public debts in developed economies, high quality equities continue to attract a fairly large investor interest, as they can provide a relatively high and stable income and additionally present lower volatility than the rest of the market.
Thomas See, Head of Structured Fund Management at Schroders, presented options-based high dividend yielding strategies and emphasized that at a time when it is extremely difficult to produce high income from bond markets without substantially increasing the underwriting investment risk, there is a possibility of achieving high and stable income from equity markets. According to Schroders, this can be achieved by adopting a distinctive strategy, which apart from investing in high dividend yield stocks, additionally benefits from the possibilities that exist in the options market, to further enhance the final income received by the investor.
Angelos Kallipolitis, Senior Vice President, Head of the Investment Research & Advice Team for Citibank in Greece, presented the “Market Outlook”, an overview of the major economic events affecting financial markets both worldwide and in Greece. More specifically, he focused on three key issues, namely the current state of the US economy, the recent economic slowdown in emerging markets and the Euro area sovereign debt crisis. Regarding the US economy, Mr. Kallipolitis referred to the positive economic data pointing to a moderate US economic recovery, but also to the negative side-effects, especially the increased volatility, that the end of Fed’s quantitative easing policies could have on equity and bond markets. On Emerging Markets, the focus was on the lower growth rates that many emerging market economies currently experience, but also on the diverging trends that a lot of these countries face, e.g. the deterioration of economic conditions in Brazil. Furthermore, Mr. Kallipolitis pointed to the significant improvement of climate surrounding the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis after the successful attempts by the E.C.B to restore investor confidence in the region. Regarding the Greek economy, Mr. Kallipolitis highlighted the positive signs of improvement that are currently observed, some of which are the significant reduction of the fiscal deficit and the decrease in the rate that GDP falls in the latest quarters. Finally, as per Citi Global Consumer Group, the latest tactical asset allocation views were explained by Mr. Kallipolitis, i.e. the current overweight positions in equities versus bonds, with developed market equities being preferred over emerging market equities. Moreover, for bond markets, Citi Global Consumer Group currently has an overweight allocation assigned to High Yield bonds, whilst it was also mentioned that investing in short-duration bonds may, to some extent, protect investors from an increase in bond market volatility.
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