Hedge fund specialist describes what makes a good leader in asset management

Career Path: Lauri Vaittinen, Senior Vice President at Mandatum Life, has worked with a lot of leaders who have dared to think long-term and didn’t get caught up in short-term trends. He tells AMWatch why he considers this an important characteristic in an asset management industry where things change very fast.

Lauri Vaittinen, senior vice president at Mandatum Life, has worked with a lot of leaders who have dared to think long-term and didn’t get caught up in short-term trends. Photo: PR / Mandatum Life

Which career path did you envision for yourself when you were younger?

"I think I wanted to become a lawyer when I was younger, but I don’t think I gave it that much thought. During high school, I found out that my strengths and interests were focused on mathematics and I had to figure out if I wanted to become an engineer or study finance.

I decided to study the latter as I wanted to do something that was somehow related to everyday life and not just theory.

After graduating, I thought I would be mostly involved in pure portfolio management and working with investments most of my career."

Which part of your education have you used the most in your career?

"In the early days of my career, I used my mathematical problem solving and programming skills daily when I worked as a portfolio manager. But I’ve also found these skills very useful in my current role in business management, although most of the challenges I face are much more qualitative in nature.

I think that if you put the challenges into a quantitative set up and analyze them, they often seem simpler to solve. I think that goes for a lot of everyday problems."

Which part of your resumé represents the biggest change in your career?

"That must have been five years ago when I changed from portfolio management to business management. The change actually started while I was still Head of Alternatives and a portfolio manager and I was asked to commercialize what we were doing in the portfolio.

I then changed role more formally and went from being a specialized investor in alternative investments and responsible for one portfolio to a role that demanded a wider knowledge of our company’s value chain, like how we structure the products, what our competitive advantage is, how we organize our sales department and so on.

I need this understanding to make sure that the business model is optimized."

Which leader in the business has inspired your career the most?

"Mandatum Life is part of Sampo Group and I’ve been lucky to have had the privilege of working in the same Group with several different leaders who have inspired me.

I think that many Sampo executives are very good at being patient, thinking in a long-term perspective and not trying to accomplish a lot of different things in a very short period of time.

They keep calm and don’t get caught up in a new idea without carefully considering the consequences, and I think that is why we have been successful for many years.

A lot of the Sampo executives have been with the company for many years which is quite unique in Nordic asset management, and maybe that is why they dare to think long-term.

Outside the business, Elon Musk has been an inspiration. I admire his ability to think of things that other people don’t even imagine to be possible and then taking them all the way. We all know about Tesla but I especially admire Musk’s SpaceX project.

He wanted to build a spaceship that could go to Mars and invested a lot of time and money into this space project. Today, SpaceX has probably exceeded even his own expectations.”

What occupies you the most right now?

"I’m focusing on growing our business and using Sampo Group’s DNA to help us on the asset management side.

I am particularly focusing on various alternatives products at the moment and also trying to get our investment philosophy incorporated into everything we offer our clients."

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