Amundi in region for the long haul says Nordic general manager
Peter Lindgren, general manager at Amundi Nordic, says that developing local partnerships and long term commitments are an important part of the approach to the region.
Lindgren (pictured) has been at Amundi Nordic since 2010, running the business out of a Helsinki office that is focused on new business development and client servicing. He has been involved in developing the footprint of a number of key brands in the past, including Crédit Suisse Asset Management, PIMCO, Gartmore Investment Management and Robert Fleming Investment Management.
Further evidence that Amundi is looking to expand in the Nordics came earlier this year when it opened an office in Sweden. This was followed by the July announcement it had recruited Christopher Crystal as head of Distribution for the Nordic region.
One of the key facets of Amundi’s presence that Lindgren is keen to stress is that it is not just a few years old, despite the brand itself being relatively new – it was created as a joint subsidiary business by Société Générale and Crédit Agricole, focused on asset management.
Lindgren notes, for example, the previous activities of Banque Indosuez, which Crédit Agricole acquired in the 1990s, which means that there has been a presence in the region since the mid-late 1980s. This points to Amundi being able to claim a historical presence that is one of the longest of any foreign banks in the region, Lindgren says.
The commitment to longevity in the region is important, he adds.
“We want to be considered a long term and serious player here,” he says
‘Here’ is defined as the four key Nordic markets plus Iceland. The latter has been subject to capital controls since its financial crisis peaked a few years ago, which changed the terms of doing business. However, Lindgren says local pension funds do have some foreign business, and it remains in his sphere of responsibility. The Baltic States and St Petersburg do not, although the Baltic States may be reached via Nordic partners/networks that Amundi does business with.
Amundi does not direct particular business toward any of the four main Nordic markets currently. Lindgren says that as an asset manager it “wants to be in all business segments.”
This includes institutional business lines in areas such as insurance and pension funds, foundations, and private banks.
The distribution segment includes strategic partners, co-operative distribution agreements, unit linked networks, wholesale and IFA networks.
The corporate segment is focused on the biggest corporates in the region, including bringing Amundi’s experience in money market solutions to those in treasury functions. Corporate pension funds are another part of this.
Amundi is also a provider of ETFs, and therefore is able to target the business segment seeking index products, he adds. And then there is the sovereign wealth fund business to aim for in the region.
It is important to recognise the level of sophistication among Nordic investors, he says. This shows itself; for example, he points to the industry trend a few years back to segment Alpha and Beta. However, following some uncertainty over what was being defined as Alpha versus Beta, investors are now looking for different approaches.
Regulatory differences persist, and it is important to consider these each separate markets. Danish pension funds, for example, are already required to mark to market, so are effectively working under Solvency II already, Lindgren says. Norwegian oil wealth may affect risk appetite.
Understanding local requirements fits into the overall Amundi objective of becoming a ‘trusted adviser’, which can develop long term sustainable business with long term partners, Lindgren suggests.
“It is important to develop relationships to foster a local presence. To understand regulations and laws, and respond faster to local client demands. Being local also helps develop a feel for local trends early, and to spot the herd approach. Local circles are important,” he says.
Regarding the place of foreign and domestic brands, Lindgren says that “we need each other”
Amundi is not necessarily keen to become, say, the number one Finnish equity provider, so it does not feel the need to compete in all domestic product areas.
But investors also need the global expertise that a provider such as Amundi can bring, he argues.
Amundi has AUM of some €750bn, of which just over half – 51% – is in bonds.
Money market (19%), equities (13%), diversified (9%), structured (4%) and absolute return and alternatives (4%) round out the AUM breakdown.
On the AUM measure it is the biggest asset manager in its home market France, as well as in Europe. Globally it claims to be among the top nine biggest asset managers.
The company says it reaches 50 million retail customers via eight key partner networks in Europe and Asia. Joint ventures in China, India and Korea result in an additional 50 million clients.
It has 3,000 institutional clients and third party distributors in 30 countries.