PORTRAIT Barbara Rupf Bee, CEO* at Renaissance Asset Managers

Between alternative funds and emerging markets

le 15/06/2012 L'AGEFI Hebdo

Since the mid-1980s, Barbara Rupf Bee, the current CEO of Renaissance Asset Managers, which has 3.1 billion dollars under management, has held a series of positions of responsibility in the financial sector. The impressive career path of this woman of character began in the banking sector with J.P. Morgan: "It evolved naturally, she explains. I did not have a career plan, but my choices needed to be motivated by an intellectual challenge." The turning point came in 1999 when she was tempted by the asset management sector and was appointed CEO of CreInvest, a fund of hedge funds launched by Julius Baer: "Hedge funds were not very open before the LTCM (Long-Term Capital Management L.P) problems, she recalls. The regulatory authorities then changed the rules and forced the sector to become more open. At that time, the real challenge was how to extract value and widen the investor base."

The next stages of her career enabled her to develop her knowledge of alternative funds: after several years spent with Union Bancaire Privée in Zurich, she joined HSBC in 2003 where she was initially responsible for business development and sales for the alternative division with the group’s private bank. A key lesson she learned was that: "The levels of expertise of alternative fund managers now need to be higher than in the past. However, the technical skills that enable managers to find ways of extracting value cannot be taught. It is an art and not a science and only managers with the necessary talent succeed." She was then appointed global head of institutional sales in HSBC’s asset management division, where she discovered the potential of emerging markets. Renaissance AM, which she has headed up since the beginning of 2012, has placed her directly at the heart of this segment, and she has discovered new markets such as Central Europe, Africa and frontier markets. Since her arrival, she has focused in particular on sub-Saharan Africa, a continent which, in her opinion, does not receive enough attention. "Investment in emerging markets must be perceived on a long-term basis and not just as a firelight", she concludes.

*Chief executive officer

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