Only a few weeks in his new role as head of northern Europe at Natixis Investment Managers, Andrew Benton already believes his EUR 887 billion money management firm can enhance its business reach in the Nordics.
He is confident even though the region's domestic players -- Nordea and Danske Bank Wealth Management, for example -- experienced declining assets under management in 2018 as a consequence of institutional investors insourcing their investments.
According to the institutional sales veteran, northern European investors are increasingly seeking illiquid assets to diversify their portfolios' risk-adjusted returns.
Benton says one of the main reasons he decided to join Natixis was the company's affiliate model.
Natixis Investment Managers consists of 26 independent asset managers with various investment strategies and focusing on different asset classes. The broad range of investment capabilities, especially in private markets, is crucial to winning the region.
"We see a lot of demand in relation to illiquid assets across the UK, the Netherlands and the Nordics," he tells AMWatch, adding:
"There's no one-size-fits-all model when approaching clients on illiquid assets. Even though there's an insourcing trend, that doesn’t mean that every large client can or will insource investments. For Natixis, it's about having strong local teams that have a strong understanding of their markets and their investors' needs."
After 25 years in institutional sales, the most important lesson I bring to Natixis is to very client centric. You must take the time to listen and understand their needs before you engage in a dialogue about products and capabilities. Without knowing a client's need, it's almost impossible to enter a constructive dialogue.
Only local assets insourced
Natixis' Stockholm-based team consists of Viggo Johansen as Nordic head and Karl Waltré as Nordic sales director. According to Johansen, the insourcing trend in the Nordics mostly revolves around local assets:
"I expect that much insourcing will focus on assets close to home. As we are very unlikely to develop a purely Nordic strategy, I don't think we will be much affected by this trend – at least not in the short term. Investors will still need external managers for markets far from home," he says to AMWatch, and elaborates:
"As an example, we see that most of the corporate debt in Finland and Denmark consists of lending to local corporates. We will never compete solely in that area."
The local presence is important, Benton emphasises, as it is difficult to be based in London and at the same time know Nordic clients personally as well as their needs:
"As Karl and Viggo's relationship with Nordic investors is stronger than mine, it's my role to make sure they get the support they need, especially giving the strong trend toward diversification."