INSEAD PARTICIPANT INTERVIEW

Getting updates on the latest trends in asset management

Nils Bastiansen

Executive Director of Equities
Folketrygdfondet
Asset manager of the Government Pension Fund Norway on behalf of the Norwegian Ministry of Finance
October 2014

"It’s an academically orientated programme, with a practical approach and it is an excellent opportunity to get updates on the latest research and trends in the asset management industry."

Can you please introduce yourself?

I am the executive director of equities at Folketrygdfondet, the asset manager of the Government Pension Fund Norway on behalf of the Norwegian Ministry of Finance.  At Folketrygdfondet, we invest exclusively in Norway and the other Nordic markets and we deal with equities and bonds only (60% equity and 40% bonds). Our biggest exposure is in the Norwegian market, in which we have 85% of our investments, with the remaining 15% of our portfolio being in the Nordic region.

As executive director of equities, I am responsible for the equity portfolio in both the Nordic region and Norway. I deal with the day to day operations of our investments decisions and my team of analysts and portfolio managers helps with these decisions, as well as any corporate governance issues.

I have been working here for the past 19 years and started as a portfolio manager. I also currently serve, and have previously served, on the nomination committees and corporate assemblies of a number of Norwegian companies. Prior to this, I started my professional life as a stock broker at DNB Bank in Oslo and then went on to work in equities for Nordea Bank in Copenhagen.

Given your extensive asset management experience, why did you decide to come on the Advanced Asset Management programme?

I would describe myself as a market practitioner with the kind of practical financial knowledge that comes with the day to day experience of doing my job. I wanted to update and refresh my knowledge of the main foundational concepts and trends in the field of asset management. I was also interested in finding out what the latest developments were in the field. 

Did the programme meet your expectations?

Yes. I had been searching for an asset management programme for quite a while. The other programmes I had found and considered participating in did not seem interesting, advanced or well-rounded enough to meet my expectations. However, when I saw Advanced Asset Management, I immediately identified that it was the kind of programme I had been looking for. It is the best fit for our type of investment and it had a good balance of pure finance and topics relating to our responsibilities as a long-term investor.

How do you see the programme helping you in your work?

I believe the programme will help us better understand the markets and improve our investment performance. We are trying to develop and enhance our portfolio management activities. We are a long-term investor with a focus on quality companies. This strategy has allowed us to outperform the market for the past 10-15 years. However, we would like to develop other, complementary strategies and concepts to improve our performance even further. We would also like to take a more quantitative approach to our work, to help us both adjust risk in the portfolio and increase our excess return.

Did the programme show how to put into practice the theory?

Yes. We went through new practices that I can bring to my work and implement into our equity investment strategy to achieve good returns. The programme also gave good insights into how to harvest time varying risk premiums from different sources.

What were the highlights of the programme?

The sessions on factor investing and behavioural finance were very rewarding.  

Did the participant mix help with the learning?

It was very interesting to meet other portfolio managers who face the same challenges as us. We exchanged experiences and I found this to be both productive and inspiring. We learned a lot from spending time together, going through the case studies and taking part in the group work. It was a very good group and the participant mix was an asset to the programme.

How did you find the faculty?

They were very pleasant and great communicators. They made even complex topics easy to understand.

What would you to say to someone who is thinking about taking part in the Advanced Asset Management programme?

I would highly recommend it. It’s an academically orientated programme, with a practical approach and it is an excellent opportunity to get updates on the latest research and trends in the asset management industry.

Interested in INSEAD's Advanced Asset Management programme? Have a look at the Advanced Asset Management web page or contact Mark Hoggarth, the programme advisor, on +33 (0)1 60 72 40 38 or at [email protected].

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