Manulife launches UK asset management business

Parliament-UK-London-Bus-Transport-700x450.jpgCanadian firm Manulife Asset Management has officially launched in the UK and is looking to expand its business through individual hires or team buyouts.

The asset manager, which has £226bn in global asset under management and significant scale in Asia and North America, has recruited almost 40 people to its London team over the past 18 months.

Chief executive Kai Sotorp, visiting from Toronto to announce the launch, says he would like to increase this to around 60 staff in a year’s time, either through individual recruitment or team buyouts.

Chris Fellingham is one of its most recent appointments, becoming head of liquid alternative strategies. The earliest hires in the European expansion started in December 2014 with Kathryn Langridge and Philip Ehrmann both appointed to the global emerging markets team, becoming head of equities and senior portfolio manager respectively.

London-based global head of distribution Claude Chene says: “We’re always looking for investment talent in the marketplace, we’re always looking at what types of people are out there.”

Although the asset manager has traditionally been focused in the institutional space, Chene says a unified investment team would service wholesale clients as well.

The firm hired Alan Burnett to be its head of wholesale sales and relationship management in the UK and Ireland in May.

“The buying patterns of some of the bigger IFAs and wealth managers are all starting to look at much more institutional quality offerings. We come with that mentality to the marketplace,” Chene says.

Regulatory pressure was one reason institutional and wholesale investors were becoming increasingly aligned, says Chene. “On another front, the pressure from passive and smart beta is forcing higher quality investment strategies to be offered as competition.”

Manulife Asset Management has already established a Dublin-domiciled fund platform, which has 11 funds registered for sale in the UK and Ireland, and has begun passporting its funds into other European countries.

Speaking about the timing of the launch, with the UK’s EU referendum just over a week away, Sotorp says it would not change the needs of Manulife’s client base in the UK or Europe, adding: “It might shift whether we can do things from a hub in London versus a hub in London with outposts on the mainland.”