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Investment firms look to Nordics for growth

Polar Capital follows PineBridge and Hermes in establishing business development operations into the region.


David Robinson

London-based boutique asset manager Polar Capital is focusing on the Nordic region as part of its international expansion drive.

New chief executive Gavin Rochussen is seeking to diversify Polar Capital’s product range and geographical client base and the group has made a series of Nordic-focused hires.

The move follows other asset managers that have expanded business development operations into the region.

PineBridge Investments opened its first Nordic regional office in Helsinki in May led by Nordic business development head Tomi Långström.

In June, Hermes Investment Management appointed Magnus Kristensen as director of business development for the Nordic region to be based in Denmark.

Polar Capital is also opening of an office in Paris as it looks to expand its European presence in light uncertainties around Brexit.

Polar Capital has traditionally been UK-focused in its business but the appointment of Rochussen last year – after founder Tim Wolley retired – has led to a shift in strategy.

Polar Capital global head of distribution Iain Evans said the group was seeking to diversify business by both geography and channel. The group has prioritised building its presence in the Nordic region and has hired Blackrock’s ex-Nordic head Peter Leane to lead the team.

Polar Capital has also hired a Danish emerging market team led by Jorry Rask Nøddekær to launch its debut emerging markets fund, which will relocate from Copenhagen to London. The team catered to a lot of Scandinavian institutional clients at Nordea and Evans said the group hopes those relationships that will translate into new business in the Nordic region.

Institutional client focus

The hires are part of a bigger strategic plan to expand the group’s client base beyond wholesale investors and build closer ties with larger institutional clients, Evans said.

Denmark and Norway have a strong institutional bias, Evans said, adding that the group intended to target both retail and institutional clients in Sweden and Finland.

Paul Voute, head of European business development at Hermes, said: “The Nordic region is made up of sophisticated investors across both institutional and wholesale, which are keen to increase their exposure to ESG-integrated strategies. The fact the Nordic market is very institutional biased, with many large pension funds, also makes it attractive.”

Rodolfo Crespo, an associate research director at consultancy Platforum, said one driver behind London-based asset managers expanding business development operations in the Nordics was because of the move away from fund rebates in the region.

The Nordics are choosing to move on to ‘clean’ share classes because they expect that to be the new model under Mifid II which had already happened in the UK under the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) in 2013.