Insurance Asset Risk Awards 2023 - North Americas

Investment team of the Year, Asset Manager - AllianceBernstein

They say the only thing harder than winning is winning twice in a row. AllianceBernstein (AB) has pulled it off, however, care of its 14 person insurance investment team, each having an average of 23 years of experience.

The team, led by Gary Zhu, manages more than $79bn on behalf of insurers' general accounts, in addition to the oversight of an additional $21bn in general account assets that sit directly with other dedicated fixed income asset class teams.

Over the course of a tumultuous year, AB's insurance portfolio management team was able to grow its asset base by just under 10% to $79bn. Perhaps more impressive, however, is the level of continued collaboration the team employs with all of its insurance clients, illustrated by two new clients won this year. The first was a multi-billion dollar mandate managed via a separate account.

The client's preference is for a high quality, buy and maintain strategy, leveraging longer-duration US investment grade corporate debt supplemented by a taxable municipal debt given the strategy's preference for quality. Frequent points of contact include trade ideas and recommendations, as well as formal reviews on a monthly and quarterly basis.

The second is a $200m, multi-sector fixed income mandate. The portfolio's objective is to maximize book yield with an emphasis on liquidity and includes a mix of asset classes including US investment grade corporate debt, agency residential mortgage-backed securities, and benchmark asset-backed securities. This mandate was funded through multiple sleeves, and the team collaborated heavily with the client to ensure proper compliance on both a mandate and portfolio level.

The contrast in size, strategy and preference between these two examples demonstrates AB's approach and ability to service and manage assets for insurers of all sizes and types. It is the collaborative approach the team takes when working with clients that separates it from the crowd—and made it a worthy winner of this year's award.