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Curling actuaries, particle physicists and other unconventional routes into financial services jobs

Nordic financial services may be a relatively close-knit community, but that’s not to say it only attracts accountants or those with a pure finance background.

Bond manager Pimco has appointed former particle physicist Mikael Angberg as its head of new business for the Nordic countries.

Angberg began his career studying black holes at CERN, the European organisation for nuclear research, before taking a more conventional financial services career path through the organisation’s €3bn ($4bn) pension fund, developing liability-driven investment products for Axa Investment Managers and a stint in Goldman Sach’s Nordic office.

With its emphasis on quantitative analysis, Angberg is by no means the only physicist successfully to make the leap into financial services, he explains.

“In the 1980s and 1990s a large number of physicists went to work on Wall Street as quants. I know several physicists and engineers from CERN who went on to work in finance, primarily as quants,” he says.

“A solid base in mathematics helps when you move into finance but I would say the most important tools were developed while I was studying engineering and working at CERN, which helped develop my analytical problem solving skills.

“But it is perhaps more unusual to go into business development, and I wouldn’t say the transition is easy,” he adds.

Others who have taken a circuitous route into senior Nordic financial roles include DnB Nor board vice-chairman Bjorn Sund who, among other roles, led the development team for the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer.

The armed forces are another popular recruiting group, with former Swedish army officer Thomas Backteman now working as head of corporate affairs at Swedbank and Christian Lundstrom, a former sergeant in an arctic ranger battalion, now chief investment officer at Sweden-based Independent Investment Group.

Meanwhile, Anette Norberg, an actuary at Folksam Group in Stockholm, doubles up her “day job” with being an Olympic-level curler, including having the distinction of winning gold in both the 2010 Vancouver and 2006 Turin winter games, the first captain successfully to defend the top medal.

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