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Factor investing has been making inroads with institutional investors in Europe and Achmea is one of the frontrunners. ‘Smart beta’ has many advantages, says Freddy van Mulligen, the firm’s head of equity and fixed income manager selection at Achmea, but he still can’t do without active managers

Profile Freddy van Mulligen, Achmea Investment Management

Achmea Investment Management began its journey into factor investing in earnest in 2011, just after Freddy van Mulligen had joined the company, by introducing low volatility managers. As we all know, low-volatility stocks generated amazing results for investors in the years to follow.

“When we introduced low-volatility investing to our clients, it was a relatively new proposition,” he says. “Now, it’s huge, especially among institutional investors in The Netherlands, and it has been a fantastic story [at least until recently]: the same, or even a higher return [than the MSCI World], but with less risk.”

The good experience with low-vol managers helped Achmea make a radical decision in September 2014: to centre its entire investment process around low-vol and four additional factors: value, momentum, quality and size. To avoid value traps we prefer to combine value with momentum.

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