Duval to quit as Russell Investments' Europe CEO

Pascal Duval

The LSE had bought Russell from Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance in June 2014 but only wanted to retain its index business. TA went on to buy the investment arm in October 2015.

Duval told FN: “Completing two transactions was challenging, in terms of dealing with the global business, our clients and our people. Now that we have come through a period of ownership uncertainty and the firm is entering into a new and exciting phase of its evolution, the time is right for me to start a new personal chapter.”

Russell manages assets worth $ 244 billion, $ 68 billion of which are in Emea.

Duval will stay with the group until the end of the year to help plan for the succession: “We have employed headhunters, but we’ll look at internal as well as external candidates.”

Beyond this year, he said he wanted to spend time with his family and consider new options: “I would consider asset management, wealth or advisory businesses. But I want it to be entrepreneurial.”

Duval’s departure comes hard on the heels of Emea chief investment officer Christophe Caspar, who jumped ship to run Pictet’s new wealth investment platform this July.

Duval left Watson Wyatt, now Willis Towers Watson, to join Russell’s Paris office in 1994. He joined to create multi-manager products, where Russell slots strategies developed by third-party firms into a single product. Where possible, Russell negotiates fee discounts with managers to help cover its costs. It has continued to retain its consulting business.

Russell has also developed smart beta strategies which it offers directly to its clients such as RPMI Railpen, which gave it a £700 billion mandate in early September. It also slots smart beta into its multi-manager products. Pascal said: “Where we see bias creeping into multi-manager strategies we can use it to neutralise the impact.” Russell’s early products covered emerging market equities and bonds.

In the late 1990s, Pascal developed new relationships with Societe Generale Asset Management, now owned by Amundi, which remains a client; Arca, the asset management arm of Banca Populare of Italy; and Scottish Widows, now owned by Lloyds Banking Group, which continues to use Russell.

Pascal’s predecessor Frédéric Jolly resigned after the credit crisis but Duval stayed to help rebuild Russell’s performance record. He became Emea chief executive in 2011 and a member of Russell’s global executive committee in the wake of Len Brennan’s appointment as president and group chief executive. As well as becoming involved in the LSE and TA transactions, he played a key role in developing business in the Middle East. He personally retains 15 clients.

In a statement, Brennan said: “Pascal’s leadership of our Emea business has played an integral role in competitively positioning Russell Investments to capitalise on rapidly growing opportunities ahead.”

As well as multi-management, Russell has gained credentials as an expert on transition management and derivative overlays.

Lately, Duval also become a trenchant critic of the way market liquidity could cause problems for bond funds. In June 2015, he told FN: “Quantitative easing and a frantic search for yield have created the largest bubble ever seen in the bond market.”

Correction: Russell Investments manages $ 68 billion in Emea, not $ 78 billion as previously reported.

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