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Implemented consulting a flop, departing Russell NZ admits

Russell Investments retained a steady client base in New Zealand despite the resignation of the country head, Ed Schuck, and the fact its new managing director would be based in Australia, according to a report on Australian news site Investment and Technology (I&T).

Wednesday, December 17th 2008, 10:08AM

by David Chaplin

Schuck, who resigned this week as head of Russell NZ after nine years with the firm, told I&T the New Zealand business had not lost any clients recently and still looked after approximately $1 billion for “nine or 10” customers.

However, Schuck admitted the 'implemented consulting' model – where the asset consultant also owns the fund-of-funds structure – had failed to take off in New Zealand. In Australia Russell is a big player in the implemented consulting market, which has proved popular with super funds and other large institutional clients.

While Russell had been pushing the model in New Zealand over the last few years, it is understood independent asset consultants and fund trustees disliked the approach.

"In Australia funds seem to go either completely DIY or buy full outsourcing from an implemented consultant, in New Zealand they seem to prefer a semi-implemented approach, using a range of multi-managers on a sector-by-sector basis," Schuck told I&T.

He will be replaced as head of Russell NZ at the end of December by the Sydney-based Mark Blair. According to a Russell statement, Blair would “frequently” visit New Zealand.

Chris Corneil, the recently-appointed head of Russell Australasia, said the New Zealand and Australian businesses had become “increasingly aligned”. Schuck told I&T he would “explore new opportunities” after a long Christmas break.

"Everyone thinks about where they best belong, and after nine years in the role I wouldn't say I was stale, but I think it is good to give other people a chance to move into the role and put their stamp on it," he told I&T.

Sasha Mandich, who worked as a consultant to NZ community trusts and super funds for Russell between 2005-7, will return to boost the firm's local presence.

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