Choosing US managers: Irish Cement Group
The Ir£112m ($160m) Irish Ce-ment Group pension fund is more likely to open its arms to US managers, with the arrival of the EMU, says Nora Finn, pensions manager.
The scheme currently uses Irish managers, and employing international talent is not yet an option for Finn, even though 10% of the total fund is invested in US equities.
However, she sees the attraction of the Americans becoming more apparent when the fund specialis-es further, which she says is something that will be more and more appealing in the future".
But, she hastens to add, that level of specialisation is not going to happen just yet. "It is a slow pro-cess that will take a little while long-er. But I think once we get into the EMU, then things will become less nationally minded. And then once you are into looking at managers in the European context, you will be looking at managers in the global context."
Insular thinking is still a common barrier to US managers accessing Europe and Finn admits to an element of ignorance towards the capabilities offered by the US. She says: "A lot of countries up until recently have really been insular in dealing with their pensions ar-rangements, putting most of their pension investments in their own country and not using outside in-vestment managers, and that to-day carries on to a large extent."
The US managers it seems have quite a lot to gain from the arrival of the EMU, if only so potential clients start thinking of themselves in an international sphere. But for now, as Finn concludes: There is a reluctance to get involved with something you can't feel and see, something which is that bit further away from where you can ask them what's going on." RO"