Solo artists not in vogue with Pohjola’s Petri Venäläinen

Being a team player is a key attribute sought out by Pohjola Asset Management’s head of manager selection Petri Venäläinen when vetting the industry.

Petri Venäläinen works for the Pohjola Asset Management business in the area of fund selection serving a wide range of internal and external clients. While all clients are Finnish, his work leads him to look at a broader funds universe, such as databases of US mutual funds, although there is a preference to be invested in mainly European Ucits funds, or participating when managers enter the European market. The universe being considered is long only equity, fixed income and commodities.

Venäläinen is not involved in alternative investments, which is run by another team through a fund of hedge funds rather than investing directly in single manager strategies. Similarly, venture capital or private equity is run by others in the organisation, including a private equity fund of funds.

Because of the breadth of the overall Pohjola group, Venäläinen says that when it comes to assets, such as Finnish equity, he feels it has the necessary capabilities in-house. It runs many European equity strategies including Eastern Europe. In fixed income it has capabilities across most, if not all, the euro denominated asset classes, from money market up to high yield and convertible bonds, Venäläinen adds.

“But, as soon as we go outside these areas then we will be looking for managers elsewhere who have more resources and knowledge about each of these asset classes. I’m really only looking at things from outside Finland.”

The amount of assets invested in external funds or mangers was about €5bn as of mid-October. This is down from a peak of about €7bn, but in turn, this has a lot to do with tactical positioning in institutional portfolios. For example, when more heavily invested in emerging market debt and equity, then the share of external managers in the portfolios would rise because these would be bought from elsewhere.

But, with portfolios being cautiously positioned, and therefore more exposed to European credit and money market funds, which are typically asset classes managed inhouse, then the exposure to external managers is at the lower end of the spectrum.

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