Company Profiles

Building Nuveen's Wealth Management Message

Tom Burroughes Group Editor April 12, 2023


A director for UK wealth at an investment firm, which is part of a large US pension fund, is targeting the private wealth market. He argues that his business model is well suited to the current financial environment.

In an unstable world where the air is thick with talk about AI and “disruptive” business models, there’s definitely an appeal to being part of an investment group dating back to 1918 with five million savers and about $1.3 trillion in assets under management. 

Nuveen, founded in 1898 and bought by the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) in the US – founded in 1918 – is aiming more at the private wealth market, and doing so outside the US. In November last year, it appointed former Allianz Global Investors figure Harry Bush as director of UK wealth, for Nuveen. He was appointed to provide added support to the firm's ambitions to grow its offering for private wealth clients across Europe, in line with similar appointments in Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden in 2022. (Before AGI, Bush worked at Cambridge Associates and Neptune Investment Management.)

Bush thinks that Nuveen’s story needs to be heard by a wider audience.

“Whilst Nuveen’s breadth of high quality investment capabilities continues to speak for itself, we are now looking to build out our range of tailored products whilst continuing to build our client support system,” he told this publication in a recent interview. 

Nuveen, which is already a substantial business, has more than 600 employees outside of the US, and it is continuing to develop. In February, Nuveen promoted Romina Smith to the newly-created role of head of continental Europe within its global client group. In 2022, the investment manager opened a location in Zurich. It now has 17 locations in Europe.

“Over the last 125 years, Nuveen has been hugely successful in building a world class client service system across a range of regions and client segments. In recent years, we have made significant steps to bolster this expertise across the European wealth segment by growing our local presence. The opening of our office in Switzerland and key hires across our European team demonstrates our commitment to building those relationships with banks and family offices there,” Bush continued. 

Bush said that a large part of Nuveen’s growth in recent years has come from the acquisition of specialist investment managers across infrastructure, natural capital, and private credit. 

“Each of our investment teams are able to freely express their views without being constrained to a top down `house position’. One area of commonality across the platform is the search for a diversified sources of income. That is effectively the key mandate that we have from TIAA and it’s no surprise that that is an area in which we excel,” Bush said. 

This news service asked Bush where it sees untapped opportunities for clients.

“One of the key investment goals for a private client is to provide income for retirement. Traditionally this income has been delivered via public fixed income and equity. In reality there are many other sources of income available, whether it be from private credit, real estate or even farmland. Given the dire performance of the 60/40 portfolio last year, we feel that clients are more open to these alternative sources of income as they look to add robustness to their portfolios,” he said. (Bush referred to the 60/40 per cent split between equities and bonds, respectively, which have for years been seen as a default split to follow in a portfolio.)

This news service asked Bush what he thought about where active management can still be achieved and whether there is a reasonable price for it? Has the “passive” trend run its course?

“One of our key goals is to provide our clients [with] true value for money. Being reasonably new to the market, we are in a unique position to be able to offer our clients the value of active management without asking them to pay through the nose for it,” Bush said. “The absence of a back book of high fee paying clients means we are able to launch products to the market at competitive price levels without the fear of cannibalizing our existing book of business and this is something we are increasingly excited about.”

“Continuously high rates and volatility have historically diminished the value of passive allocations, but it will be interesting to see whether the growth of alternatives means continued interest in passives as clients allocate more of their fee budget to non-traditional markets such as private capital and real assets,” Bush continued. 

Bush concluded by responding to what he thinks about artificial intelligence and how it affects wealth management. 

“The introduction of AI is certainly starting to provide some interesting developments to the world of asset management. AI has been used in investment processes across the industry for a number of years and I believe this will continue to grow,” Bush added. “On the distribution side, there are some really innovative technologies coming to market and we continue to monitor these for ways we can better serve our clients.”

(An earlier version of this article ran today on WealthBriefing, sister news service to this one.)

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