Nick Lopardo, State Street Global Advisors' (SSGA) chief, is di-rect about the group's strategy. Our strategic goal on asset management is that by the year 2000, about 50% of as-sets will be related to North America, the rest will be elsewhere. There will be $500-600bn under management, with a third relating to the consumer or retail market."

SSGA is well on the way to this. "We did this a little differently to our competitors over the past decade, by building eight investment centres worldwide, with portfolio management expertise on site, managing money both lo-cally and outside as merited." Most offices are staffed by local nationals.

Lopardo says: "My view of the world in the future is that it is becoming a village. Technology allows us to talk to our portfolio managers 24 hours a day. All the offices are tied into one database and we use similar models and strategies, wrapped and packaged for the local market, but essentially the algorithms are the same whether you are picking stocks for a US or Australian client.

He believes this strategy is being validated in the current wave of mergers and acquisitions among financial groups. "What are they doing? In my view they are putting together a series of companies as we have in SSGA, a defined benefit investment company, a defined contribution company, a high-net-worth individual company, a brokerage company, a communications capability and so on." He points to the new alternative in-vestment group being put together called State Street Global Alliance. "In some years' time this should represent 20% of what we do."

The drive is to "higher margin, more active, activities". "We have chosen to do this by creating separate companies in the SSGA group, giving the management ownership in those companies and really putting teams of professionals together rather than going out and buying something."

The difference between his and other groups is that "we have not written a huge cheque" to put together this capability, although he acknowledges that the SSGA capability may not necessarily have the depth that some of these other groups' acquisitions have.

SSGA's chances of achieving this have to be rated. In Lopardo's time it has grown from a $17bn asset manager to number one or two in US pensions asset management, and the largest US player in pensions outside North America. It is in the top three asset managers in the US and in the top 10 globally. As he can proudly point out: "All of ours is internally grown."

One of the reasons he gives for this success was the creation of cross-selling opportunities with State Street Bank, SSGA's parent. "In 1987, 80% of SSGA's business came from the bank's custody clients, today probably 30-40% of our new business comes from custody clients and the rest from new relationships." In turn, these new asset management clients cross-sell opportunities for the custody side of the business.

"The group has created a whole conglomerate of organisations that try and act as one, each with a different value-added part. That is what other groups are doing - they are putting together this conglomerate of organisations with individual expertise. When the capabilities are put together you can create integrated solutions for customers, rather than selling them one-off products."

His whole thrust is to provide such integrated solutions. "You come to us to solve a problem, rather than hear us say we have a product that will suit you."

Europe fits very much within the overall strategy, with the development of the major investment centres in London and Paris, and other local openings. With the advent of the euro, there will be opportunities for new "euro-type products". Lopardo says: "We see a great opportunity for DC-like activity and we are looking for a way to take our North American expertise into the European environment. The secret is going to be to link up with some record-keeping and administrative capabilities that are direct-ly applicable to the continent. You cannot flip the US record-keeping across to Europe."

Joint ventures such as the Italian one with Mediolanium, the creation of additional mutual funds there and in France and the formation of a Kag in Germany to run special funds are among the more immediate projects on his menu. Fennell Betson"