06/08/2008 - 22:00

Asgard outsources admin jobs to India

06/08/2008 - 22:00

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IT emerged from Western Australia in the 1980s to become one of the giants of national financial services wizardry, but the Asgard operation in Perth is slowly being whittled away, with owner St George Bank Ltd sending jobs to India.

IT emerged from Western Australia in the 1980s to become one of the giants of national financial services wizardry, but the Asgard operation in Perth is slowly being whittled away, with owner St George Bank Ltd sending jobs to India.

St George's $46 billion wealth management division confirmed that competitive pressures have prompted the bank to include Asgard in a joint venture arrangement the general banking business had with technology giant IBM's India business.

The company would not divulge the numbers of staff impacted, but claimed that all employees affected would be offered other roles within the bank's Perth businesses.

"Impacted roles are within the administrative functions such as data entry, and are not client facing," a spokesman said in a statement when asked about the possibility of wholesale cutbacks in the Asgard business.

"We need to ensure we remain competitive for the long run and continue to look at areas where we can benefit from access to scale operations and global best practice.

"Last year St George announced a partnership with IBM to perform some selected administration activities in India.

"We have now decided to expand our relationship with IBM to provide similar services to our operations area in Perth."

Asgard is a national name in the master trust and wrap account business, having emerged at the start of this phenomenon in the mid-1980s when technology allowed it to provide financial planners with a service that managed their clients managed fund investments and provided better buying power in doing so.

The master trust, effectively an administrative platform for portfolio investment in managed funds, was the forerunner to what is now a similar product called the wrap account.

Once driven by technology, Asgard was the mainstay product of Sealcorp, the most dominant of a handful of master trust operators that came out of WA. It had a sister brand, Assirt, which provided performance monitoring information.

In late 1997, St George trumped MLC with a $271 million bid to buy Sealcorp from founder Graeme Morgan, who cashed out about $100 million, his executive team and other investors, including its bidding rival which moved on to purchase another Perth master trust group, Flexiplan.

At its peak a few years ago, Asgard was estimated to have about 600 employees spread across at least several floors of the Central Park building in the CBD and an office in Osborne Park.

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