Norway is one of the smallest markets in Europe for investment consulting and as yet does not offer many enticing opportunities for the international consultants. However there has been a slight increase in demand for ALM services, and pension funds have been pressing for the removal of investment restrictions and for the usage of more international reporting and measurement standards, signalling the keenness of companies to quantify the effects of their investments.
PricewaterhouseCoopers interestingly has established offices in Norway, offering both actuarial advice on scheme design as well as investment manager selection. Mercer operates through its subsidiary, R Loen Consultants and Watson Wyatt had a presence but was taken over by life insurance company, Norske Liv in 1997. Callan Bacon & Woodrow has interests in Norway, but as yet has not set up there. Much of the consultancy function continues to be run by subsidiaries of the domestic investment managers. There are some consultants specifically focused in the fund business although their fee revenue comes from the fund managers as opposed to the clients. There are only a handful of independent third party consultants currently which tend to be small set ups concentrating on specific areas, with new addition, Semcorp which is a software company selling portfolio management systems to pension funds. The growth in the market could be spurred on by the liberalisation of investment restrictions which has created a new pool of money for consultants to advise on.
Norwegian pension plans are ex-pected to modernise their portfolios further over the next three years with an increase in equity investing and international assets and to take an increased interest in risk management, optimisation techniques as well as performance measurement systems. The consultancy business overall in Norway is slowly growing but more in terms of educating the pension funds in the purpose of third party consultancy.
They don't know what they can get from a consultants, but it is a very fast growing market," says Caspar Holter at Pensjon & Finans in Oslo.