Skandia Investment Group (SIG) has denied that needing to appoint its fourth global CEO in the past two years – and second within weeks – is having a destabilising effect on its business.
Late last week SIG – the wholly owned manager of managers business in the long-term savings (LTS) division of Old Mutual Group – revealed that Paul Feeney would start as CEO next month, pending regulatory approval.
Only a few weeks beforehand the firm had unveiled Feeney as chief executive of all Old Mutual’s asset management businesses within LTS. He will report to Paul Hanratty, CEO of the LTS business.
And just last month it had named Phil Wagstaff as SIG chief. He would have been reporting to Feeney upon the latter’s arrival next month.
But after just two weeks in the role it appears Wagstaff had a dramatic change of heart and has opted to join Henderson Global Investors instead as global head of distribution.
Close contacts of Wagstaff suggest he found the opportunity to join Henderson and former colleagues from Gartmore and New Star too good to turn down.
Asked if such CEO turnover was having a destabilising effect on the business, John Morgan, head of public relations for SIG based in London, replies: “The honest answer is that it hasn’t destabilised it at all. We’ve wasted a bit of time trying to get to know Phil, but nothing more.”
He notes that SIG’s executive committee has been stable for three years, boasting the same CIO, head of sales and marketing, compliance and product development.
“With [Feeney’s] appointment already in place, it was very easy to give him the CEO of SIG role,” Morgan adds.
“The key point regarding SIG is that the investment performance of our range puts us in the top quartile of European fund managers over three years.”
SIG is a sister company of insurance business Skandia International (which is also one of its clients). It effectively acts as a gatekeeper of the funds platform.
SIG has 23 externally managed sub-funds under three ranges: Skandia Global, which is the range distributed in Asia; Skandia Fonder (Sweden); and Skandia Investment Management (UK).
Globally it manages around $23 billion, which included around $1 billion in Asia-based assets, although AsianInvestor understands this has shrunk a bit. It boasts about 45 investment professionals out of a global staff of 120.
In terms of products SIG has two Asian equity funds, two emerging market debt and an emerging market equity fund.
Just last month it launched a global futures fund out of Dublin seeking approval from Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission.
Its manager research team is based in London and parts of Europe. In Asia it has six sales and marketing staff in Hong Kong, where it has a type-1 and type-4 licence. They also fly to Singapore and mainland China.
Jane Fung, executive director of Skandia Global Funds Asia-Pacific, says she is eager to see more Asia-centric product and that conversations about Asia expansion have been held, but suggests decisions will not be made until next year.
Morgan too confirms that Asia expansion is on the agenda. “We are expanding in Taiwan and see Singapore as another potential opportunity. There will be selective opportunities in Hong Kong as there has been for SIG in the past.”
Asked about the firm’s global priorities for 2012, Morgan adds: “To sell significantly more products than we have done in 2011 by providing a broad range of interesting funds and investment solutions.”
He points to Skandia Global Futures Fund as a key product, a managed futures fund within the Ucits framework – which he describes as the sort of product that the Asian marketplace would take an interest in.
Previously Feeney was head of distribution and executive director of BNY Mellon Asset Management, responsible for all global distribution outside the US. Prior to that he held roles at Gartmore, Royal Bank of Scotland, Coutts and Nat West.
Formerly Wagstaff was global head of distribution and a member of Gartmore’s executive committee before he agreed to join SIG as CEO on November 8.
In doing so he became the third (albeit short-lived) CEO of SIG within the past two years. Last December Nils Bolmstrand stepped down to join Skandia’s Nordic business as head of product.
His predecessor, Jamie MacLeod, left in December 2009 to become CEO of Berry Asset Management. Chief operating officer Mark Bulstrode had been acting as CEO in the interim.
Old Mutual is an asset management and insurance firm with £303 billion in funds under management.