There are consultants, and there are 'consultants' in Finland and the advisory market in between is still very much in development as it mirrors the debutant institutional investment market.
With very little need for scheme design - due to the country's mandatory pension plan legislation, little in the way of investment advice openings - with funds talking directly to their asset managers, and nothing in the way of performance measurement that isn't carried out on a limited basis by the HEX Helsinki stock exchange, the scope for consultancy manoeuvre is currently rather limited.
Nonetheless, according to Eero Heliövaara, senior vice president of investment at pension insurance company Ilmarinen, the euro could be the catalyst for change.
As a result of Emu more pension funds want to taste the European investment experience, but this a very young market so it can't be rushed. The larger Swedish and Anglo Saxon consultants are here and beginning to offer more advanced investment services. This is preempting the shift away from solely employee benefits consulting - which is the only domain of the Finnish consultant, although a couple such as Oy Porasto and El-akepalvelu are pushing their business into new territory."
Some portfolio management business is trickling through for the selection of investment funds for pension schemes. But the industry is also very tightly run in Finland, and those which do make headway here in the future will have to be consistent and adhere to standards such as GIPS."
Pentti Tervola, consultant actuary at Helsinki based Oy Porasto, says: "Most of our present business is consulting on the new working capital requirements for retirement schemes here, but investment policies are ad-vancing in Finland and risk development has entered the affray, especially because of consideration of the ex-pected EC green paper and its effect on the country's pensions and investment market. The steps forward are very small though." Tervola also believes the market would benefit from increased consultant presence in the country to push forward the investment revolution.
Eero Gauffin, managing director at Helsinki consultants Elakepalvelu Oy, says the firm is gearing up its involvement in manager searches as a response to the single currency.
"EU membership means we have to widen our services and inevitably co-operation with foreign players is going to happen if we are realistic about the future of the consultancy business in Finland." Hugh Wheelan"