Chatting illiquids with Nick Groom from Natixis Investment Managers

A demonstration of a positive collaboration between the Natixis IM team, Smart Pension and the trustees of the scheme to develop and deliver a solution that met the needs of all parties

It was great to be joined by Nick Groom, Head of DC Sales and Strategy, from Natixis Investment Managers (IM) in our latest ‘Smart Pension Connect – in conversation with’ series. It’s always good to catch up with Nick to chew the cud on all things pensions and investments, although this time we weren’t in the pub so that made a novel change!

They say time flies when you’re having fun and it certainly did during this conversation. We covered a lot of ground looking at the development of the asset management industry during Nick’s career and what’s left to be done to really deliver for clients and members. Nick’s theme was understanding the end needs of the member and we agreed that more needed to be done to create that alignment between the products that asset managers wanted to sell and the needs and wants of pension savers, and in particular, providers and schemes.

We talked a lot about the desire to get more investment into illiquid assets, the barriers to these types of investments, and the strategic partnership between Smart Pension and Natixis IM to deliver illiquids into the Smart Pension Master Trust. This work demonstrated a positive collaboration between the Natixis IM team, Smart Pension and the trustees of the scheme to develop and deliver a solution that met the needs of all parties. And, importantly,  at a risk and price point that worked in a mass market auto enrolment environment. Although this currently allows members of the Smart Pension Master Trust to access private credit markets, which are at the less racey end of the illiquid investment universe, Nick certainly thought the approach could be extended to accessing other forms of illiquid assets, including illiquid equity infrastructure and Real Estate.

Finally during our quick fire round, Nick was clear that those entering the industry need to build and use their networks to get on, and that although this has been significantly affected during Covid, it is something that should be a priority all round. This very much chimes with a key lesson from our last ‘in conversation with’ session with Jonathan Stapleton, Editor in Chief of Professional Pensions, who also highlighted the importance of networking and building links.

It was fab to catch up with Nick and you can watch our chat below. Keep an eye out for the next one of these. We’ll be back in the autumn, where hopefully there will  be some live events that we can all get out to and heed the sage advice of Nick and Jonathan to network, network, network!

About Smart Pension

Launched in 2015, Smart Pension exceeds £5bn in assets under management (AUM) and now serves over one million members and more than 70,000 employers. It is powered by Keystone, Smart’s global savings and investments technology platform.

Aquiline Capital Partners, Barclays, Chrysalis Investments, DWS Group, Fidelity International Strategic Ventures, J.P. Morgan, Legal & General Investment Management, Link Group and Natixis Investment Managers are all investors in Smart Pension.