After years of servicing Australia and New Zealand, successfully, with a fly-in/fly-out team, Northern Trust Asset Management has opened a three-person office in Melbourne under regional senior vice president for institutional business and strategy, Bert Rebelo, who will relocate from Hong Kong.
Rebelo, who has been with Northern Trust for about 16 years and has been a frequent visitor to Australia and New Zealand since he moved with the firm from London to Hong Kong in 2008, is supported by Shane Teunissen, as senior insto sales manager, and Ann-Marie Garry as sales associate.
Teunissen, a former consultant with Frontier Advisors, joins from BlackRock, where he was a vice president. Garry relocated from Northern Trust’s Dublin office, where she worked as an analyst and then in asset servicing.
Northern Trust set up its Melbourne office in 2007 after it had won two big asset servicing contracts – that of the NZ Super Fund and Australia’s Future Fund. The asset servicing operation has expanded dramatically and now employs more than 100 staff under business head Rohan Singh. In the past two years Northern Trust has won more new asset servicing business than any other custodian.
On the asset management side, Northern Trust also has NZ Super as a big client for a smart beta, which it calls “enhanced equity”, strategy including specific ESG exclusions and last year picked up $220 million from LUCRF for an ESG-enhanced global index fund. The firm has about $4 billion in Australia and NZ-sourced assets.
Steve Potter, president of Northern Trust Asset Management, was in Australia last week to announce the new office. He said the focus would be on the smart-beta capabilities, including ESG-enhanced strategies.
Recent work has included developing factor models with respect to ESG, including blending those screens with quality factors.
In the US Northern Trust also has the third-largest “outsourced CIO” business with more than US$100 billion managed for, mainly, smaller institutions. Potter said that while he was not suggesting this for Australian super funds, it demonstrates his firm’s “partnership approach” to its client service, through the provision of research and advice. “We want to be seen as an advisor, not just a product flogger,” he said.
Northern Trust also has a big fixed income operation, including the largest pool of municipal bonds under management in the US and about US$120 billion in cash management. ESG strategies total about US$62 billion. Total funds under management in beta products is about US$450 billion.
He said that the firm could run Australian index funds, which it would do from its Hong Kong office.
* Greg Bright is publisher of Investor Strategy News (Australia)