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Asset management start-ups on the rise

Going it alone is becoming an increasingly viable option for disgruntled Nordic asset management professionals.

Murat Ünal, chief executive of Funds@Work, a German consulting firm for the asset management industry, says he is working with a growing number of international professionals looking to spin off and start up, including from the Nordic region.

“We have been receiving so many requests lately for set-up projects. There was a big cycle between 2000 and 2002 and we are seeing another cycle now, which started in 2008 and will in all likelihood last through 2010,” he explains.

“In the past four weeks alone we’ve been in touch with eight to 10 spin-offs from Europe, including the Nordics, Asia, and the Gulf Region” he adds.

Much as elsewhere within the banking sector, the turmoil of the past 18 months has shaken up the asset management sector, causing many to re-evaluate their positions and career trajectory.

But starting up is not a route that everyone will be able to make a success of, cautions Ünal.

“It is typically not sales people but portfolio managers, and even then not average ones. You have to have a solid track record and good performance, so that the brand is not so much the organisation the client is working with as the individual fund manager,” he says.

People who have longer term experience of investment cycles and who know more than one asset class will also tend to be better positioned to make this sort of transition these days, specifically in the eyes of potential clients.

“If you do not have the right attitude – if you are not fully committed and fully identify with it and do not see it as a long-term plan – but just as an alternative to being employed, then you should not really be doing it. You have to love it and want to do it, because you will be taking an entrepreneurial risk. And you have to have the relevant track record and trust of your investors,” adds Ünal.

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