UK - Axa Investment Managers has restructured its institutional investment business and divided its team into three operations, in a bid to keep up with changing client needs.
Martin Hall, head of Axa IM UK and Scandinavia, told IPE whereas in the past the pensions business was primarily focused on products requiring just one team to assist pension fund clients, the complexity of regulation and investment options today is likely to means pension funds are looking for an overall service rather than a packaged offering.
"What we have tried to do is provide more clarity to our team. We have an institutional business development team working with clients, but we also need to think about the lifecycle of the client," said Hall.
He continued: "Five years ago, we all tended to sell products to clients, and if you got a buy rating from a consultant it would filter through to sales in due course. But with all the regulatory changes, although you can talk to the consultant about skills and building blocks, often the product we sell now needs to be a solution rather than a product off-the-shelf. So we need to enter into more dialogue with clients."
As a result, the institutional business team has been divided into three pillars, focused on interaction with investment consultants, generating potential new business and supporting existing clients.
Simon Cartwright is leaving his role as consultant relationship director at Fidelity International to join Axa IM as head of global consultant relationship, while David Townshend, will take on business development as head of UK institutional sales and Mark Yeates - who, like Townshend, is from inside Axa - will be responsible for client services as head of UK institutional client relations.
While the shift in business management is largely aimed at UK-based pension funds, the format is likely to be applied to the Netherlands-based business too, as well to the less-developed Scandinavian market which, at this stage, has less contact with investment-led consultants, Hall continued.
"Outside the UK and Netherlands, this whole question of building solutions is probably less visible. Elsewhere, either clients are still buying products or in some market are using consultants less frequently, so the three pillar approach resonates less. But we will certainly draw on this [new strategy] as a means of talking to the consultants," added Hall.
While there are unlikely to be further changes to the institutional business, as a result of the strategic review which began in July when Hall joined Axa, it is likely there will be some, albeit less, "reshaping" to the asset manager's retail distribution at Axa Framlington, he suggested.
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