Danske Bank Hires Investment Head for $200 Billion Wealth Unit

Danske Bank A/S hired a new director for its wealth management unit as Denmark’s biggest bank steps up its focus on areas outside traditional lending to cope with years of negative interest rates.

The Copenhagen-based bank recruited Henrik Gade Jepsen, 53, from ATP, the largest Danish pension fund, to oversee asset management at its wealth unit from Aug. 1.

“The environment is challenging, and we’re in a situation where we’ll have to live with these challenging market conditions for a while,” Jepsen said by phone. “It’s even more important then to design the right, tailor-made solution for customers and that’s not easy.”

Chief Executive Officer Thomas F. Borgen has underscored his commitment to wealth management as Danske’s home market struggles to increase revenue in a region plagued by negative interest rates. Denmark’s central bank has kept its main rate below zero for the better part of four years, while in neighboring Sweden rates have been negative for more than a year. Estimates suggest that neither country will have positive rates until around 2018 at the earliest.

“Asset management is one of the cornerstones in our new wealth management push, so I’m happy that we were able to attract such an experienced and competent profile,” Tonny Thierry Andersen, the unit’s head, said in a statement.

Danske’s 1.35 trillion kroner ($203 billion) wealth unit, which was created in April after the bank combined several divisions including its pension business, will target growth in one of the world’s richest corners as Scandinavians look for ways to generate returns on their growing pile of savings.

Jepsen will be replaced at ATP by Kasper A. Lorenzen.

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