Ex-AP3 fund manager reminisces as he enters partner role at up-and-coming firm

Career Path: After spending 18 years as a portfolio manager at AP3 in Sweden, Jannis Asdres made a U-turn two years ago when he moved into advising customers. Last month, he started in his new role as Partner and Advisor at fund distributor House of Reach.
Photo: PR/Karina Ljungdahl
Photo: PR/Karina Ljungdahl

Which career path did you envision for yourself when you were younger?

"Like most kids, I had grand plans for my career. When I was a child, I wanted to become exciting things like an astronaut and race car driver. 

But I have always been very business focused and full of entrepreneurial initiatives. For example, in 1988, I won a prize for selling the most copies of the evening daily newspaper (Kvällsposten) in the south of Sweden. I have a lot of memories of adults telling me I was very good at doing business. I think they referred to characteristics like being structured/methodical, passionate, good at mathematics and extremely focused and goal oriented.

So, when I grew a bit older, I knew that my career would encompass a mixture of mathematics, money and risk-taking. I was taught as a child that you had to be good at mathematics whatever you wanted to do in life, and I have always loved taking risks in various forms."

Which part of your education have you used the most in your career?

"When I was studying finance at the university, I thought I was going to use the theoretical parts of my education much more than I do now. Several important people around me, some of them role models, used to emphasize that the theoretical knowledge was mainly a toolbox, but the more basic things and personal characteristics would be much more useful and decisive in my future career. I wasn’t convinced back then but I must say they were very right. 

The most valuable parts of my education have been the thorough mathematical/logical basis and advanced probability theory in different forms, but also much more general things like being organized/structured and being able to express your views well orally and on paper.

Furthermore, I consider the ability to prioritize, to make fast decisions based on imperfect information (in financial markets) and stay  focused when different things try to steal your attention to be crucial for coping well in a fast-paced industry."

Which part of your resumé represents the biggest change in your career?

After having spent almost two decades as a senior risk-taker at the highest institutional level at AP3, The Third National Swedish Pension Fund, my career took a different turn almost two years ago. From having had very significant operative risk-taking mandates with public money in the international financial markets for over 18 years, I transitioned into a much more flexible, self-managed role as a senior advisor, partner and investor.

I went from being focused on managing Swedish public pension money at high intensity around the clock for many years, to a role where I help others to succeed in their ventures by utilizing my deep and broad knowledge of the capital markets, risk-taking, capital structure, funding/treasury and governance-related matters. 

This transition is for sure the biggest change in my career so far."

Which leader in the business has inspired your career the most?

"I have had the luxury of meeting many very inspiring people in the industry throughout the years, many of them natural born leaders. I think my personal style of directness, high energy, unconventional thinking and confidence in my risk-taking skills have helped me gain close relationships to a few of them. 

It is difficult to choose just a few of them but Niklas Ekvall, CEO at AP4, The Fourth National Swedish Pension Fund (former CIO at AP3) has been a great mentor for me for many years. I started in my first job in Stockholm at the age of 22 in his quant team at Handelsbanken Markets back in 1997.

His co-partner back then was Thomas Bergqvist and he has been one of my closest friends ever since. We have ventured into several very different jobs together and he has been my boss and of essential inspiration to me in many ways. Both Niklas and Thomas have played significant in my development as a successful professional." 

What occupies you the most right now?

"At this point I must say it is the coronavirus pandemic and its profound effects on our society. Not only the immediate urgent effect on people's health and work but also the wider long-term implications on how our personal and business life will change significantly.

Many of these changes were on the cusp of happening anyway, but this crisis will be a grand catalyst. I am referring to very structural tradeoffs like mean and lean versus prudent buffers at many levels of our society, extreme shareholder focus and short-termism versus long-term sound investment philosophies, lower growth and back to much more local/regional trade patterns and supply chains and much more."

On top of that I spend a lot of energy on a daily basis trying to find the right balance between being a well-informed, useful and ambitious advisor helping our clients at the House of Reach and Styrelseinstitutet the best way I can, in combination with managing my own investments and spending as much time as I can with my family."

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