US-based firm Russell Investments says it is increasingly talking to institutional investors and sponsors in Asia about outsourcing the CIO function.
Trevor Persaud, managing director for Asean and Taiwan at Russell Investments based in Singapore, says the firm is targeting mid-sized firms that are trying to stretch small teams to cover investments and all the governance duties that go with that.
The answer can be to outsource the duties of a chief investment officer, he notes, with in-house staff then assigned to manage that outsourced person. “Instead of hiring a consultant, and then hiring an asset manager and engaging a custodian, this is about wrapping all of that into one,” Persaud says.
Russell Investments has taken a strategic change of direction for its business in recent times by pushing more of an outcome-oriented solutions approach in the Asia region.
Historically the firm has focused on consulting, asset management, transition management and its indexes business. However, it is now striving to work with sponsors and institutions to deliver outcome-oriented solutions using its multi-manager, capital markets and advisory capabilities.
“Most asset managers talk about outcome-oriented solutions when the markets are volatile, and thereafter go back to their bread and butter of equities and bonds,” says Persaud.
“But Russell has been advising people how to achieve outcomes for a long time. In the most basic way we are putting our money where our mouth is as advisers.”
He adds that while Russell will continue to offer its traditional business lines, its primary focus looking ahead will be on selling this combined offering.
Russell went through a restructuring almost a year ago following the arrival of Len Brennan as global CEO in the summer of 2011, succeeding Andrew Doman who was promoted but has subsequently left.
Persaud took over the duties of Mahendran Nathan, the former chief for Asean, Hong Kong, Taiwan and India. Alex Kim, ex-business development manager for Korea, also exited, as reported, although that business continues to be run by Yuseok Kim.
Only recently the firm announced that its Asia-Pacific chief executive Alan Schoenheimer had taken over the Australasia CEO operational duties of Chris Corneil in a rationalisation drive.
This was a cost-efficiency exercise after Schoenheimer relocated from London to Sydney in the middle of last year. Corneil has subsequently left after 15 years with the firm.
Schoenheimer takes responsibility for the group’s Australia and New Zealand businesses. There is understood to be no impact on the rest of its Asia operation.
As at the end of September, Russell had $159.1 billion in global assets under management, of which $31.2 billion was sourced from Asia-Pacific. The Asia figure was a 15% year-on-year rise.