Mr. Benito is Director of Institutional Clients for Europe. He is responsible for the development of new businesses and relations in Europe and the middle East for all Compass group Asset Management products. Previously, he was Head of cross border products, where he was responsible for the maintenance, development and implementation of Compass Group strategies, which together total more than US $ 6,000 million. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Benito worked in the products area for institutional clients at Moneda Asset Management and as Analyst at US Bank. Mr. Benito is currently doing his Executive MBA at London Business School. He also holds a degree in Business Administration from Universidad del Salvador and a Master’s in Finance from the University of San Andrés and Frankfurt School of Finance & Management in Germany.
When and how did you start your career in the financial industry? Did you have any other vocation?
At age 22, after 3 internships in finance departments in different industries and before finishing university, I knew I was decided on a career within finance and asset management. The experience gained during those internships, together with a course of capital markets during my final year at school, were the key drivers that made me understand that being part of this constantly challenging and fast-paced industry would inspire my future career.
How does a normal day as a Director of Institutional Clients in Europe at Compass Group? How do you organise yourself?
This role is very dynamic, and each day is very different (and this is one of the main reasons that I like it). First, I always try to plan my day ahead, during a typical day, I work on any follow ups that I may have from previous days and set up priorities. Clearly client requests and support takes priority. I have a process that I run through our CRM that helps me to be close to all our clients and prospects and organize my to do list
Given the fact that I work with teams who are located in different regions and countries (typically the US and South America), it’s key to be well coordinated and organize priorities with anticipation.
What is the most interesting part of your role? What do you enjoy the most?
I do enjoy working in a role and industry that is very dynamic and where I’m constantly challenged to learn more and get better.
I also enjoy interacting with different people who are typically from different backgrounds and regions. London has been a great location to meet people from all over the world, and I very much enjoy learning new things from them every day. It is really easy to travel anywhere in Europe and the Middle East from here.
Which would you say are the most interesting geographical areas to invest in at the moment? what are your clients more interested in?
We like Latin American Corporate Debt, an asset class that represents a relevant part of the EM Corporate Debt Universe (around 30%), and where LatAm is one of the regions that provides the most liquidity and diversity of sectors/industries.
We believe that Latin America is one of the few regions within EM that is currently offering investors a geographical location far away from current conflicts and a political system that provides procedural institutions and transparency through debate and free press, despite sometimes having heightened political noise levels.
Moreover, we are seeing that corporate balance sheets from LatAm companies are healthy and companies are in their best shape in over a decade. In terms of valuations, they are still attractive compared to other regions, with spreads trading above 400bps (slightly above the long-term average of 400bps, despite the strong corporate fundamentals)
We see corporate bonds in LatAm are offering attractive yields relative to many other fixed income alternatives and higher spreads per unit of leverage than U.S. corporates on a rating-matched basis. When compared to other EM region, LatAm corporate debt has a better risk adjusted return profile than the rest, given the healthier balance sheets reflected in lower default expectations.
Which assets do you think will perform best during 2022 considering the current volatility in the market?
Latin American equities has been one of the few equity regions in the word that has been on the positive territory this year. This performance has been, among other things, a reflection of a catch-up after two bad years in terms of returns (2020 and 2021). Even after the recent rally and when comparing to other regions, we believe there is still upside potential for many companies in the LatAm Equity universe. While the short-term market outlook is difficult to predict, we believe that Latin American companies look cheap to be ignored for long-term investors.
In your opinion, what are the key drivers for successful fund distribution?
I believe that having good people is key for any company to success.
Having good people has helped us to build a reliable and strong brand, and I believe this is one of the strengths that we have as a Firm.
Then, of course, it’s also key to have in place the right structure, vehicles and been accessible through the main platforms. Having the right partners it is also key when it comes to expand the brand to new markets. As a summary, all stars need to be aligned, the opportunity needs to be attractive for investors, you need to have an established team and a solid track record for the investment capabilities you are offering. I believe that focus and specialization make a big difference.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Persistent, goal-oriented, ambitious