In 2012, we embarked on a mission to build a new kind of asset management business.
What’s in a name? Well, quite a lot, we think.
As we went about the process of finding a new name for our business, we knew from the outset that we wanted to be called something that truly reflected our values and our approach to doing business.
After much consideration, discussion and, dare we say it, debate, we settled on the name Merian Global Investors, inspired by the remarkable life of the scientist, adventurer and artist Maria Sibylla Merian.
Born in Frankfurt am Main in 1647, Merian’s story elegantly reflects both our values and the unique mix of investment styles that can be found within our firm. Hailed by Sir David Attenborough as one of the most significant contributors to the field of entomology (the study of insects), Merian is considered one of the first scientists to debunk widely believed myths about the lifecycles and metamorphosis of insects.
Merian’s travels took her as far away from Northern Europe as the jungles of Surinam in South America. At the time, it was exceptional for women to lead such expeditions, and her actions raised eyebrows in some quarters.
During her career, Merian endured exceptional hardships: despite contracting malaria in Surinam, and subsequently suffering a stroke that led to her partial paralysis, she nevertheless continued her work.
Merian captured her scientific findings and observations in a large number of exquisitely detailed illustrations, many of which survive to this day and are held by major art collections around the world. Indeed, she is often described as “the woman who made science beautiful.”
So important were Merian’s illustrations that Carl Linnaeus – the renowned Swedish botanist and zoologist responsible for creating the system of naming organisms still in use to this day – is thought to have relied upon them to identify approximately 100 new species.
What is the relevance of a 17th-Century scientific illustrator to a modern asset management firm?
The answer is twofold. First, as a polymath, Merian embodied the multi-faceted approach we take to investment. While some of our fund managers – for example our global equities team – invest in a way that is definitively scientific, others, for example some of our UK equity fund managers, believe that investment is first and foremost an art.
Secondly, Merian’s achievements and strength of character symbolise our vision and values as a firm. We are proud, for example, that our executive committee has more women members than men, reflecting our progressive outlook and belief that diversity strengthens our business. Just as Maria Merian overcame obstacles and stereotypes in her era, today we are building a truly different kind of asset manager.
While our name may suggest we are a relative newcomer, our roots in fact go back many years.