2016 Forty Under Forty

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Anders Hjælmsø Svennesen

Anders Hjælmsø Svennesen

(Copenhagen, Denmark) 41

“Hired to turn Danica’s fortunes around after it had been rockbottom for three years, Svennesen just led his fund to the second-best returns in Denmark in Q1.And he’s only just begun.”

Name the biggest difference between your job in 2012 and current position.

I’m CIO and on the executive board—a lot of responsibilities I didn’t have before.

What is one career move you wish you could take back...?

I joined ABN-AMRO (Dutch state-owned bank) in 2001 and went back to ATP in 2002. It wasn’t right for me. Still, I don’t think it was a wrong move, because I learned a lot of things on the sell side.

... and investment move?

We did very well through the financial crisis because we didn’t have much risk. At the time, I didn’t think that a central bank could make such a big difference. I wasn't fast enough to take on more risk.

Compare your leadership style to that of a historical figure or famous leader.

I see myself more as a coach, like Ulrik Wilbek, who coaches the Danish national handball team. At Danica I want the very best specialists, and for them to work very well together as a team. I spend a lot of time getting the right mindset in the team.

Which asset owner would you most like to have on your team?

I hired two guys from PFA last year: Poul Kobberup and Jesper Langmack, now-head of rates and head of risk assets. They were the two guys I wanted the most—and I’ve got them.

You’re advising an employee about a job offer: How heavily should compensation weigh in their decision (as a percentage)?

When you reach a certain level of salary I can see that most investment professionals tend to focus more on softer things like working with the right people, being part of a high-performing team, having the right responsibilities. For younger people, salary weighs a lot more. I want to strike the right balance. We focus on the soft things: whether you feel you have the right progression and development, and whether you are glad each morning that you’ve got this job.

The key to successful board relations is________.

Quality, trustworthiness, thoroughness, and being on time. If you do that the board will support you.

Describe the weirdest interaction you’ve had with a job candidate.

We have one or two HR partners sit in for the last part of the process and the weirdest things always happen when they start to ask questions because they’re not from the investment team. They question the answers given on the personality test if it feels like the applicant might be trying to cheat.

Who’s your main mentor/sponsor?

I find my mentors more in coaching. I find a lot of inspiration within the sports world on how to manage and put together the right team.

What is one thing you believed in 2012 that you no longer believe?

There is nothing that I believed then that I truly don’t believe in now.

Advice you’d give to this year’s crop of Forty Under Forty?

If your intuition says something is the right thing to do, even if it’s a hard decision, don’t be afraid of it. Do it. It often turns out to be right.