SWEDEN - Gustav Karner, head of asset management at Länsförsäkringar, one of the largest pension and insurance providers in Sweden, is leaving the company.

Sten Dunér, chief executive at Länsförsäkringar, said the company was facing many challenges and changes ahead.

He said he and Karner had jointly come to the conclusion that changes should start at the top, which is why Karner was leaving his role as head of asset management in the next few months.

Karner has been with the company almost 11 years and head of asset management since 2006.

On his future plans, Karner said he would remain at Länsförsäkringar for the time being, but then take the opportunity to spend time with his family.

He said that, after working very hard for a decade, he had decided to take a break to recharge his batteries and perhaps study certain areas of asset management.

"In terms of career opportunities in the future, I am definitely interested in taking on a role where I am responsible for the overall portfolio of an organisation, whether that be big or small," he said.

"I am a great believer in index-management and have a passion for that."

Dunér said Länsförsäkringar was facing several changes on various fronts, such as increased competition within the banking and insurance sectors.

He added that the financial and debt crises would also continue to affect the business for some time to come.

Dunér said Länsförsäkringar's focus would shift from traditional guaranteed products to more individual fund solutions.

He said focus would also change within asset management, which has grappled with the "long and uneven" liabilities of the traditional life company.

Karner added that the changes at Länsförsäkringar would lead to more active management in the unit-linked company and that, due to his belief in indexing, it was infeasible for him to stay on.

The recruitment process for Karner's replacement is currently underway and expected to be wrapped up shortly.

Dunér said he was grateful for the loyalty Karner had shown by remaining in the role until further notice, or 15 February at the latest.