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Putnam’s Reynolds: Better Times Call for Active Management

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Robert Reynolds, president and CEO of Putnam Investments, is happy with the state of the U.S. economy.

It isn’t booming, he said earlier today during the keynote presentation at Envestnet’s 14th Annual Advisor Summit in Chicago, but it’s certainly robust enough to boast, among other achievements, a strong financial system, a chance to be energy independent by 2020 and extremely favorable demographics compared  with many other industrialized nations.

Globally, too, things are looking pretty good.

The worst of the European crisis is apparently over, and while emerging markets are going through some challenges, elections in several countries — India, Indonesia, Brazil — will allow a record number of voters to have their say, and hopefully, elected leaders will enact the necessary structural reforms to ensure long-term, sustainable economic growth.

All this is very new, of course, but against a more favorable backdrop — one where globalization continues, Reynolds said, and where “in 10 years, China will be even bigger than it is now” — advisors are going to have to work hard to figure out the best investment options for their clients. The low-interest environment provides an added challenge when seeking to meet retirement goals in particular, Reynolds said, calling on advisors to be nimble and creative in seeking out the best, long-term investment solutions and managers to work with on their clients’ behalf.

For Reynolds, this is the time for active management, for seeking opportunities and value beyond the tried and true, to figure out different ways to manage volatility, all the while embracing new opportunities.

“Today, we’re entering a period where active management can really add premium,” he said.

As life expectancy increases, there’s a greater need to generate income in retirement. Being able to meet those income generation goals means operating in a global environment that lends itself to active management — to stock picking, for example, rather than indexing.

Those who are stock pickers, who are ready to look for different opportunities in various countries across the globe in an active manner, will fare well, Reynolds believes, and those advisors who seek out actively managed funds will be able to add greater value to their clients’ portfolios by capitalizing on individual opportunities within a favorable overall backdrop.


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