Trustees Executors (TE) is on the look-out for three senior executives – two of them newly-established roles – as it embarks on a five-year upgrade program.
Ryan Bessemer, who replaced long-time TE chief, Rob Russell, this April, said the Wellington-headquartered business was hiring a head of investment administration, chief risk officer and private wealth head.
The investment admin role is a new position in TE while the chief risk officer job has been carved out from the existing responsibilities of company secretary (a vacancy also up for grabs).
However, the head of private wealth job is a replacement for John Winch, who left this April following a long line of departures from TE. Winch has since resurfaced as head of investment advisory at rival trustee firm, Perpetual Guardian.
Bessemer said the staff rebuilding process matches a concerted effort to bring the firm’s technology offering up to speed across all aspects of the business, which covers traditional private wealth and estate planning, investment administration as well as fund supervision duties.
“We have been working on a lot of technology development programs with a strong focus on building APIs [application programming interface] for clients,” he said.
Demand for APIs was increasing exponentially, Bessemer said, as both investment admin and supervisor clients sought new customer engagement, data management and distribution models.
In July this year TE hired Josh Sinclair as head of IT (officially, general manager service transformation and enablement) to lead the tech step-change program, he said.
“We are developing a lot of the technology in-house but we’re also using a number of external resources,” Bessemer said. “We want to create a partnership model [with third-party IT firms].”
He said TE was about to sign-off on a new five-year strategic plan that set the goal of bringing cutting-edge technology to the NZ investment market as quickly as possible.
As well as improving TE’s existing custody, registry and fund accounting offerings, Bessemer said the firm could also expand into the portfolio administration game.
“For example, there’s a lot of demand for model portfolios – and we want to develop a capability in that area,” he said, with the rise of direct-to-consumer investment offerings sparking the growth.
After a “sleepy” five years or so for TE, Bessemer said the firm – ultimately owned by Switzerland-based investor, John Grace – was “directing a lot of investment into the business”.
“We have lost a few key admin clients because we couldn’t supply the technology they wanted,” he said. “But now we can supply it and are looking to bring the next layer of technology to the market sooner rather than later.”
Notably, the $5 billion plus Milford Asset Management shifted its entire investment admin services to TE rival MMC this June.
Despite the optimism, Bessemer admitted TE still had a few “legacy issues” that were absorbing internal resources. And it is understood at least one other investment admin client could be on the move soon.
“But for the first time in a long time we’re seeing a robust pipeline of new opportunities across both investment administration and the supervisor businesses,” he said.
TE, which reports fund under administration of over $120 billion, has a long history in NZ with multiple owners over its almost 140-year existence. In 2015 TE was touted for both an IPO in Australia and a potential trade sale target.
Bessemer was formerly chief operating officer at ASX-listed trustee and investment management business, Equity Trustees.