Adding value through research

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Mattias Hagen, head of Manager Research, Wealth Management at SEB in Sweden, describes how the research function is being leveraged to generate greater value for clients.

All fund or asset selection starts with some form of research, usually quantitative, which then leads to a ­narrowing of choices and, ultimately, the assets within a client’s portfolio.

SEB in Sweden has taken a fresh look at that research function, according to Mattias Hagen (pictured);  SEB has started to use the research to generate additional business ­opportunities off the ongoing work of its selector team.

Hagen sees, from his position in Sweden’s capital ­Stockholm, ongoing demand for external manager research. Some SEB research is already going to fund of fund ­platforms, but Hagen sees a gap in the market to sell research purely on a consultancy basis.

This research could either be a set of generic fund recommendations or a specifically contracted piece of work. The latter approach would then put SEB’s fund selection research into competition with other consultancy firms in the market.

“It is a new area where we see potential,” he says. “It could be smaller companies, fund platforms and perhaps Tier 1 customers. We can offer strong analysis, but it is also important to sit close to the customer and understand their needs, both when you are supporting a platform or delivering focused research.”

The local presence is definitely an advantage in this development, he says. It means being able to have an analyst located in Stockholm who can also travel with the client when necessary.

As a consultant, Hagen or people in his team would be responsible for, say, screening activities but would not seek to “lead” meetings that involved consultancy clients.
The approach is something Hagen and SEB has been working on for the past year-and-a-half. It is now bearing fruit in the form of clients coming to them, who have heard about the external business as an alternative to the typical consultants.

Hagen says increasing numbers of institutional clients are approaching him.
“It also brings the customer to SEB,” he says. “There are other value-added services that can be plugged into the process: from negotiating prices by following our recommendations or in administration. We are a merchant bank able to deal with the liabilities side.”

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