Scandinavia opens up to derivatives

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Investment banks and fund managers are on the look out for people to sell derivative and fund products to the Scandinavian region.

"It's seen as a growth area," says Petra Rickmeyer, a director at London-based search firm Hoggett Bowers. "Every single major investment house has strengthened their coverage of the Scandinavian market."

In most cases, Rickmeyer says funds are placing Scandinavian specialists into roles on the ground in the region. Last October, for example, Franco-Belgian fund manager Dexia Asset Management, opened a new branch in Stockholm. Russell Investment Group, the multi-manager, has been growing its Amsterdam office with a view to tapping growth in Scandinavia.

The impetus for change has come from new 'traffic light' regulations introduced in January by the Swedish financial services regulator. The regulations have implemented strict solvency tests for retirement savings institutions, making it imperative that they cover liabilities in order to avoid a 'red light' forcing them to switch into less risky assets.

Regulators in Denmark and Norway are contemplating emulating the scheme.

Perversely, the regulations are encouraging Scandinavia's savings institutions to espouse risky assets such as derivatives in order to meet their liabilities. In turn, recruiters say this is creating opportunities for Scandinavian derivatives salespeople in investment banks.

"A lot of banks are looking at Scandinavia," says Russell Clarke, a director at search firm Mantis Partners. "There's strong demand for salespeople who have links to that market."

In January, for example, SG Corporate and Investment Bank hired two new equity derivative salespeople to start a new flow sales desk focused on Scandinavia.

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