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Friday, November 05, 2010

Northern Trust Eyes More Staff

Reported by Armie Margaret Lee

The executive atop Northern Trust's fund administration business in North America sees a continued staff expansion in the next 12 months.

"We will continue to add staff in line with the volume of new clients we add and would expect to increase staff by five to 10 percent in the next 12 months based on expected pipeline of new business," said Matt Ward, who joined Northern Trust two years ago as head of fund administration in North America, overseeing fund accounting and related services, in an interview with The MFWire.com.

Ward's unit saw the addition of 20 people in the last 18 months. Currently, Northern Trust has a total of about 250 people working in fund accounting and administration in North America.

In the last year and a half, Northern Trust landed six mutual fund clients, Ward said. Those include Harding Loevner, which switched to Northern Trust from State Street in June, and Shay Assets Management, which moved from Citi in the fall of last year.

Northern Trust is seeing an increase in RFP activity, according to Ward, who ascribes the jump to a pair of factors.

"First is that governance committees are performing increased due diligence in evaluating whether their current models and fee structures are appropriate in a changing economic environment," he said.

Another factor is that "prospects are questioning the service level they're getting. Many of the prospects we have spoken with have expressed concern as to whether their providers continue to make investments in people, process, and technology to keep up with their needs and the frequently changing regulatory environment."

Northern Trust considers the $1 billion to $10 billion of mutual fund AUM its sweet spot, though it can also service complexes with more than $100 billion.

The Chicago firm does mutual fund accounting and administration for 104 mutal funds with total AUM of $106 billion.  

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