Russell Investments has moved the base of its New Zealand managing director position from Auckland to Sydney, at the same time as adding to the industry’s downsizing trend with a round of job cuts in the Australian operations.

The managing director of Russell’s NZ operations for the past nine years, Ed Schuck, will depart on December 31 and Mark Blair, most recently responsible for Russell’s Super Solution corporate master trust, will take over but continue to be based in Sydney.

The incoming head of Russell’s Australasian presence, Chris Corneil, said the businesses on either side of the Tasman had "become increasingly aligned" in terms of functionality and organisational reporting. The company said Blair would "frequently" visit New Zealand. 

Schuck said he simply wanted to explore new opportunities, after having an extended break over Christmas with his family.

"Everyone thinks about where they best belong, and after nine years in the role I wouldn’t say I was stale, but I think it is good to give other people a chance to move into the role and put their stamp on it," Schuck said yesterday.

Schuck said the NZ operations had suffered no recent loss of clients, and continued to oversee approximately NZ$1 billion on behalf of "nine or 10" customers, although he admitted the appetite for implemented consulting in New Zealand would never match that in Australia.

"In Australia funds seem to go either completely DIY or buy full outsourcing from an implemented consultant, in New Zealand they seem to prefer a semi-implemented approach, using a range of multimanagers on a sector-by-sector basis," he said. 

The loss of Schuck’s on-the-ground presence will be countered with the return of Sasha Mandich to the NZ office, following a 12-month international assignment.  Mandich was a consultant to a range of NZ pension funds and community trusts between 2005 and 2007.

Meanwhile, the global financial crisis has prompted a review of cost structures in Russell’s Australian operations which saw "a handful" of jobs go last week, mostly in administrative support, according to a Russell spokesman.

Two members of Russell’s transition management team are understood to be among the departed – business development manager Campbell McPherson and a manager of policy implementation, Michael Trifunovic.

Last week Russell Investments published a new version of the T Standard, a metric it developed which is now used widely across the transition management industry to help investors measure the performance of their portfolio during a transition. Russell said the enhanced T Standard "clarifies certain past ambiguities, expands its reach to uncovered investment areas and improves the level of transparency provided to investors".The new standard is available on the Russell website at www.russell.com/tstandard.