Their teams may be relatively small, but Nordic hedge funds are outperforming many of their European and global rivals – and so could be providing select recruitment opportunities into next year.
According to the Dow Jones Credit Suisse Tremont hedge fund index, the average Nordic hedge fund has delivered annualised gains of 6.1% since January 2001, more than double the 2.85% achieved by the average hedge fund globally, with also much less volatility.
Of course, in the short term they have been no more immune to the euro-zone crisis than anyone else, with funds down on average 3.57% in the first nine months of this year.
Yet this compares with a decline of 5.9% for the average hedge fund globally and, argues Morten Astrup, chief investment officer and portfolio manager at hedge fund firm Storm Capital Management, the discovery this autumn of major new reserves of North Sea oil in the region could help to fuel opportunities.
“Client relationship managers will always be in demand and, specifically for the Nordic market at the moment, people with expertise in growth areas such as geology and offshore will be sought after,” he explains.
But it would be wrong to assume teams across the board are expanding their numbers, he cautions.
“It’s a mixed picture. If we hadn’t had 2008 and, now, 2011, there would definitely have been a lot of hiring going on. So in some respects it is as much about people not losing their jobs as about teams being added to,” he says. “But there has also been some expansion. For example, here at Storm there were just three of us three years ago and now we are 17.”
Generally, in the Nordic region, other areas of wholesale finance have held up relatively well.
“People with a corporate finance background are still worth quite a lot, especially people who know how to generate and structure deals, says Astrup. “There are a lot of deals going on and people are always going to need cash, so those are important areas. I think as a trend we will see this continuing, certainly into next year.”
A seminar hosted by Citi and Alvine Capital in October probed the case for investing in the region, arguing the Nordics were at the moment “a bright spot in an otherwise fairly bleak European investment environment”, adding that hedge fund assets in Sweden alone accounted for $30bn.
In fact, news of the robustness of Nordic funds is even prompting some specialist London hedge fund recruiters seriously to start checking out this area for future potential.