Sweden and other Nordic countries are becoming increasingly popular destinations for global custody offices, leading some observers to predict that growing demand for what is a finite pool of talent in the region could push up remuneration in this area.
Northern Trust opened its first regional custody office in Stockholm in September, while JP Morgan, which last year bought a global custody portfolio from Nordea, now has at least 10 staff in four of the region’s five capitals, with Reykjavik being the exception.
Asset management firm BNY Mellon also opened in first regional custody office in the Nordics, in Copenhagen, last year.
“There does seem to be a fair bit of activity. It is becoming a very attractive region from the asset servicing perspective,” says Sid Newby, head of Nordic business development at BNY Mellon.
In setting up their offices, the emphasis is on hiring either local talent or relocating people who already have very good local knowledge and relationships.
For example, Madeleine Senior, managing director of Northern Trust’s new office in Stockholm moved with her family to Sweden in August.
Large asset pools such as the six Swedish state retirement buffer funds, Denmark’s €7bn ATP pension fund, the Finnish VER state pension scheme and the Norwegian Nkr2.3 trillion (€278bn) sovereign wealth fund have all helped to make the region more attractive to clients.
As well as hiring locally, firms are looking to partner with local banks, as BNY Mellon did previously with Nordea, in part because there is not a bottomless pool of local talent in this area.
“I would guess there are a finite number of people who have got that particular profile and skill-set in the region. So, while the additional demand in absolute terms is still relatively small, the talent pool banks can draw upon will probably see some impact in demand,” says Newby.
“If demand increases, then wages will have to adjust to that demand,” he adds.