Handelsbanken Asset Management has been following a different path to its competitors as it seeks to stay ahead of the competition, says Peter Schols, head of investment management.
Handelsbanken has done other things differently, too. Where other Swedish banks looked east to build business beyond the immediate Nordic region, it instead turned West, specifically to the UK. It now has about 50 to 60 branches there. This has affected the palette of funds HF has developed, Schols says, particularly in terms of
international products – although HF is yet to develop UK-market specific products.
“Our investment process is built on having a global perspective, and on understanding that you have to be active globally to find the themes that are driving returns on the world’s capital markets.
“Regardless of that, if you are investing locally or globally, you have to have that global perspective. That is why we send even our smaller companies managers to places such as China and so on, so that everybody has that global perspective. That is different from our Nordic c ompetitors who may take a more local perspective.”
However, Schols adds, it also remains crucial to recognise the differences that exist between the individual Nordic markets. For example, while Sweden and Finland have quite similar corporate cultures, the Danish is markedly different, he says. That is noticed when Swedish companies acquire Danish ones or vice versa – often the
integration is difficult.
“If you put the four markets together, you get a good mix in your portfolio as you get different cultures and each provides a different strength. Food and consumer staples in Denmark; oil, offshore and shipping in Norway; Swedish technology and industrials, and some commodities; and then Finland with forestry, metals and
What does the future hold for the Swedish funds market? Schols predicts that the current trend towards index products is likely to persist.
“There is more focus on that type of product. It is emphasised by the fact that investment banks have problems and are shifting towards asset gathering in order to maintain their income. That means there will be even more such products.
“Otherwise, what we see is more the cyclically effected movement of capital than any big structural change in terms of the type of fund being sought by the Swedish customers.”