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Guardian Asset Management eyes markets outside of Trinidad and Tobago

The management of Guardian Holdings Limited’s investment and asset management subsidiaries has indicated that the company is aiming to become the preferred institution for financial planning needs and, as such, will expand its businesses across the region while diversifying its products and services.

At present, the group’s Guardian Asset Management and Investment Services Limited and Guardian Group Trust Limited collectively form “GAM”, which provide managed portfolio options including private wealth executive services. In addition, they offer a variety of mutual funds and an online Robo Advisor platform, Genius. 

Guardian Holdings Limited’s headquarters in Trinidad and Tobago (File photo)

The products provide asset allocation and diversification, as well as rebalancing of portfolios, GHL said.

GAM also operates an online self-directed brokerage service, G-Trade, which allows clients direct trading access to the international capital markets.

New products in 2020

In the analysis of its latest annual report, Guardian Holdings said it will introduce an expanding suite of products and services to existing and new markets.

In 2020, GAM’s new products included repurchase agreements (repos) in TT and US dollars, which provided short- and medium-term investment alternatives to individual and institutional clients in Trinidad.

“We fully intend to deepen our relationship with NCBJ and are looking into using them as a key distribution channel”

For the financial year, management said, funds posted competitive returns in excess of 10 per cent. 

At the same time, the division’s merchant banking business unit successfully completed several deals, and also organised and brokered several fund-raising opportunities, meeting the needs of various borrowers and investors. 

Distribution of products and services is pursued through a synergistic arrangement with Guardian Life’s insurance agents. 

In 2020, GAM embarked on several digital marketing campaigns as a new avenue for lead generation.  The company also onboarded a team of telemarketers charged with the responsibility of managing any leads.

Management said that GAM’s products continue to provide competitive returns over 2020. 

The Guardian Life building in New Kingston, Jamaica (File photo)

TT and US Income Funds remained attractive offering returns of 1.59 per cent and 1.80 per cent, respectively, over 12. As a result, management described this as “a major feat given the low and declining interest rate environment.

“During 2020, the majority of our equity-based funds also have positive returns for clients, rebounding from the broad market decline, which occurred in March 2020 due to COVID-19-related fears.”. 

In Jamaica, the division indicated, “We fully intend to deepen our relationship with NCBJ and are looking into using them as a key distribution channel.”

Growing the business

At year end, assets under management (AUM) increased by four per cent to TT$15.7 billion. Meanwhile, profit after tax rose to TT$51.4 million, registering a year-on-year increase of 35 per cent. 

GAM said that third-party funds which consist of the private wealth management business was the largest contributor, having increased by TT$4 million or 18 per cent. 

NCB Financial Group’s headquarters on Trafalgar Road in New Kingston, Jamaica
Guardian Holdings Limited plans to deepen its relationship with the group to expand its distribution channel. (Photo: Denis Brown)

Captive assets, which consist of in-house insurance business, grew $1 billion while mutual fund assets also increased by TT$1 million. 

In the asset management division, total revenue increased by 33 per cent to TT$136.7 million. 

Guardian Holdings acquired a 67.7 per cent shareholding in Cayman-domiciled broker Fidelity Insurance Cayman Limited (FICL) in 2019. of the amount, Guardian’s associated company in The Bahamas, Royal Star Assurance, holds 33.3 per cent.

In March 2021 Fidelity Insurance (Cayman) Limited formally changed its name to Vanguard Risk Solutions Limited. Management said that the brokerage segment offers a diversification component to other divisions of Guardian Group, eliminating exposure to underwriting risk.

The office of the former Fidelity Insurance (Cayman) Limited (File photo)

That subsidiary has plans to acquire new portfolios and grow its existing base by at least five per cent each year.