The five members of the IUS group risk team to have started in Zurich’s Sydney office last month include the general manager, Phil Collins, national sales manager Stuart Rowe, operations manager Paul Hawkes and pricing actuary Chenny Suthersan. The general manager of life insurance at Zurich, Colin Morgan, said it had merely hired the IUS team as employees, and had no rights over the existing group risk clients of IUS, which include First State Super’s ambulance officer division. However it’s understood the sale of the Australian operations of IUS’ underwriter, CU NA, to QBE will see it gradually withdraw from the group insurance space in Australia. Apostle Asset Management announced an institutional distribution partnership with London-based boutique, H2O Asset Management, which offers global-fixed income, emerging markets bonds and currency management and global macro alternative management.

National Australia Bank made overtures to two specific wealth management demographics last month. Its JBWere private wealth subsidiary poached three executives from competitor Credit Suisse, all from Asian backgrounds and who between them are fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese, Bahasa Indonesia and related dialects. The head of advice at JBWere, Matt Stovold, said: “Our Asian clients require wealth managers with significant Australian experience and who understand the complexity of Australia’s financial and superannuation systems. Yet at the same time these clients want a manager who is attuned to their culture and who speaks their language.” Meanwhile, fellow NAB subsidiary MLC established a ‘retirement solutions’ team, staffing it with Andrew Barnett, a 14-year veteran of AXA. “With more people moving from the accumulation phase of their working lives to the drawdown phase, retirement solutions is an area of substantial growth,” understated Michael Clancy, the executive general manager of MLC Investment Platforms.

A survey released by RBC Dexia and Accenture revealed that most funds managers expected their company’s return on equity to remain below pre-crisis levels, and a significant number were increasing their focus on cost reduction. More than half – 59 – of the 100 respondents forecast a return on equity below 15 per cent or less; and 14 of those respondents expect return on equity to be less than 10 per cent. Before the 2008 financial crisis, average returns for the funds managed by survey participants was 20 per cent. The managing director of RBC Investor Services for Australia, David Travers, observed that managers were looking to outsource functions that they had traditionally kept in-house, including such middle-office function as performance reporting and unit registry.

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