In contrast with its competitor Mercer, Russell Investments has more closely linked its Australia and New Zealand businesses with the rest of Asia by abolishing the position held by former chief executive Chris Corneil.
Alan Schoenheimer, who has had responsibility for Australia, New Zealand and SE Asia since 2004, and who has been based back in Sydney since last year, will assume Corneil’s Australia and New Zealand role.
Both are long-time Russell executives – Corneil since 1998 and Schoenheimer since 1991 – and reduced head count was no doubt at least part of the reason for the decision. But it also raises questions about how global investment firms should approach Australia and Asia in terms of their management structure.
As reported in IO&C News on January 13, Mercer split its formerly united Asia Pacific division and made its head, Stephen Roberts, redundant from December 31, while linking Australia and New Zealand with Europe for management purposes, and the rest of Asia into a group known as “new growth markets”.
In 2009, Russell split Greater Asia and Australasia into three regions and promoted Schoenheimer to a new London-based position overseeing: Japan, China and Korea; Australia and New Zealand; and South East Asia. He returned to Australia last year.
The restructure and Corneil’s departure were announced to staff in Sydney on January 31 by the visiting Seattle-based global chief executive, Len Brennan. Brennan assured the local staff that Australia continued to be one of the biggest opportunities for Russell’s global asset management business.
“We believe the next wave of assets in this region will be channeled into outcomes-based multi-asset solutions, with a strong market opportunity specifically in retirement incomes,” he said. “Our challenge is to capture this growth while controlling costs in this competitive environment.”
Schoenheimer began his career in chemical engineering but moved into management consulting with McKinsey and Co for several years before joining Russell in 1991 as a consultant.
Meanwhile, Russell has been named ‘Asia Transition Manager of the Year’ at Asia Asset Management magazine’s annual awards.
Russell had its most active transition management year ever in 2012, seeing a significant increase in principal-traded growth rates. The firm reported a 23 per cent increase in equities transition trading volumes and a 40 per cent increase in fixed income transition trading volumes.