Atilla Olesen is set to play an important part in Danske Bank's new strategy. 44-year-old Olesen, who was born and raised in Humlebæk just north of Copenhagen, is the new head of Institutional Clients. His primary objective is to make sure that all institutional clients, that currently have ties to Danske Bank, will experience a more solution-oriented practice, while he will simultaneously draw new clients to Danske Bank. Naturally he also aims to sell asset management products to the clients.
Atilla Olesen came from the position as head of Solutions in Swedish SEB where he spent nearly 10 years, from 2009 to 2012 at the London office of SEB. He enjoyed his time in SEB, but Danske Bank approached him with a particularly attractive job offer.
"It's the most ambitious asset management project in Northern Europe that Danske Bank is launching. I see it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I just couldn't decline," Olesen elaborates on the phone with regard to his move. It is his third day at Danske Bank, and the schedule is already crowded from the early morning.
Appealing levels of ambition
"I'm drawn by the level of ambition. Danske Bank has singled out the investment field as highest priority, and we have a clear mandate to carry out this ambition. Danske Asset Management will be the leading investment manager in the Nordic countries, and I want to contribute to that."
According to Danske Bank, Atilla Olesen is going to "develop the client approach to a more solution-oriented approach". Now, what does this entail?
"Earlier on, you had a product, and you sold it to your client. That was it. Today, everyone – private and institutional clients alike – has such difficulty creating returns due to the macro environment, interest rate levels, geopolitical risks, etc., that it is no longer sufficient to sell individual components to clients. You have to put yourself in your client's place and ask: How do we ensure that our client gets what he needs? It is a much more holistic approach to client treatment than simply selling investment products," Olesen explains concerning the job description that makes up his future occupation.
"It's all about being an intellectual sparring partner for the institutional clients, and it begins with the right portfolio construction. That's the foundation. Then you can start expanding with value added services. This could be risk management, reporting, liability-driven investment, and so forth," Olesen explains over the phone.
Tailored solutions are brought into focus
A prominent trend in asset management is the use of Investment Outsourcing (IO) and Outsourced Chief Investment Officer (OCIO). These two abbreviations signify that an investor completely or partially outsources asset management to a third party. This way, an outsider may handle active allocation, or e.g. select managers, conduct risk management, or manage the entire Investment section. A central aspect of Atilla Olesen's job will be to draw the institutional clients' attention to the wide range of products.
More flexibility is necessary when it comes to clients' desired level of involvement in their own asset management.
"Over the course of the coming 12-24 months, we're going to create products that allow clients to drop in at the level they wish. How much they want to outsource, how much they want to be involved. We can tailor it to each individual customer. A lot of options will be available in the future," says the new Head of Institutional Clients in Danske Bank.
Today it is already possible to vary the use of Danske Bank as a sparring partner, but it needs to be much more visible and utilized to a much higher degree in the race for clients.