BlackRock has appointed Sion Cole as head of distribution for the UK for fiduciary management, as it eyes growth of the strategy among pension funds.

Cole, who will join the company on Monday, was previously senior partner and head of sales and distribution for Aon’s delegated consulting services in Europe, Middle East and Africa. He spent 15 years at Aon – formerly Hewitt – over two stints at the consultant.

Speaking to IPE, Andrew Stephens, head of BlackRock’s UK institutional business, said Cole’s appointment was another meaningful step for its growing fiduciary management unit.

Stephens said: “As more clients are thinking about fiduciary management and choosing BlackRock, we are accelerating the investment in the business.”

Cole, who will report directly to Stephens, will manage a team that has been assembled from a range of the fund manager’s business lines. Stephens said he expected more to join the team over time.

Stephens said the company had appointed Cole due to his expertise in tackling pension funds’ funding problems by viewing them from various angles. He said Cole understood how trustees and employers were both involved in closing funding gaps and how specific governance models operated.

Stephens said the company had not targeted a number of clients or assets for the UK fiduciary management team to win.

At the end of September 2018, BlackRock had roughly £94bn (€109bn) in fiduciary management assets around the world.

Globally, Aon has more than $100bn in assets under fiduciary management. In 2017, the company said it had 110 clients in the UK, managing pension scheme assets of £14bn.

According to Aon’s website, Cole’s responsibilities are to be allocated to other members of the fiduciary management team.

According to KPMG’s annual survey of the UK’s fiduciary management landscape, fund managers and consultants offering the service were running 862 mandates between them at the end of June 2018. More than two thirds of these mandates were to run an entire portfolio.

The number of fiduciary management contracts has exploded over the past decade. KPMG estimated that the market had grown by 1,360% since the middle of 2008. The assets have also grown to reach £142bn, up from £12bn in the same time frame.

Mandates awarded in 2018 were predominantly for smaller schemes, with 68% of mandates worth less than £100m, KPMG said.