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State Street custody juggernaut rolls on

  • 2 April, 2012
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This is an archived article originally published on I&T News
“We’re not done yet," says State Street's Ian Martin on his company's potential to win more custody business.

In 2009 Ian Martin was put in charge of State Street custody business. The Boston-based firm wasn’t happy with the way that business was performing in Australia.

Three years later in the “Balmoral” conference room at State Street’s Sydney offices on George Street, Martin and his head of sales Greg O’Sullivan can barely contain their satisfaction with the state of State Street’s Australian custody business.

The company has won three out of the four most prominent custody contracts on offer in Australia in the last 18 months.

It brushed aside National Australia Bank Ltd. twice in competitive tenders. State Street now manages the custody business of $19 billion fund Sunsuper and the $32 billion fund QSuper.

“State Street stood out,” says Michael Cottier, QSuper’s chief financial officer. “There was no fundamental dissatisfaction with NAB. It was a competitive process that unlocked value for members.”

State Street convinced $20 billion fund REST Industry Super to ditch a 14-year relationship with JPMorgan.

“It’s disappointing to lose a client,” says Bryan Gray, a managing director in treasury and securities services at JPMorgan. “It reflects the increasingly competitive market place.”

State Street now has $230 billion in assets under custody, up 28 percent from the $180 billion it had last year.

“We’re well positioned with other opportunities,” says Martin, who is also head of State Street’s global markets business in Australia and New Zealand. “We’re not done yet. Other major funds can be expected to think about their arrangements.”

Still, State Street lost a $54 billion client when AXA in Australia merged with AMP and gave its custody mandate to BNP Paribas last year.

When Martin took over as head of global services in Australia and New Zealand for State Street he quickly appointed O’Sullivan, who was working in global markets, to head sales in global services.

“There was a lot of work revitalising our sales culture,” says Martin. “It’s about connecting to people, connection and trust between two organisations.”

O’Sullivan says after meeting with a fund his State Street colleagues strive to find the right personalities internally to manage a relationship with the fund. They want to trigger a fund to re-examine its custodial business and consider State Street as a potential custodian.

“We want to be a catalyst,” says O’Sullivan.

Martin says State Street’s ability to draw on international resources, its investment in technology – it spends as much as 25 percent of its operating expense budget on it – and its focus on large institutional investors have attracted Australian superannuation funds.

“We’re bringing all our resources and knowledge to understand who we’re selling to,” he says.

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