JPMorgan targets alternatives-hungry sovereign funds

The firm has hired Patrick Thomson to serve as its global head of sovereign clients. The appointment comes as sovereign investors are increasingly looking to diversify their portfolios into alternative investments, including infrastructure.

JPMorgan Asset Management has hired an executive to oversee the firm’s relationships with sovereign investors, institutions that are increasingly interested in ramping up their exposure to alternative investments.

Patrick Thomson will serve as JPMorgan’s global head of sovereign clients, based in London. In that role, Thomson will oversee teams of client advisors based around the world who look after sovereign client relationships for JPMorgan, according to a statement.

Sovereign investors, such as state-managed wealth funds, are becoming increasingly active investors in alternative investments, including infrastructure. For example, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the investment arm of the Government of Abu Dhabi, created an infrastructure group in 2007 and is looking to invest up to 5 percent of its portfolio in the asset class. Recently, it has taken stakes in London’s Gatwick Airport, toll road operator Intoll and the Chicago Parking Meters, the concessionaire for the city’s 36,000 parking meters.

Thomson said in a statement that “sovereign wealth funds will be important participants in shaping the future of global finance” and will increasingly look to diversify their portfolios. JPMorgan believes sovereign clients are increasingly interested in alternative allocations, a spokesperson said in an email. 

“Several sovereign funds are showing an increased interest in alternative assets, with some investing up to 30 [percent] of their portfolios in the asset class,” the spokesperson said, citing a report from consulting firm Cerulli Associates as the source of the data.

The firm manages real estate, private equity and infrastructure alternative investments, among others.

While the global head of sovereign clients is not a new position, JPMorgan said Thomson will “bring an elevated and coordinated focus” to this client group, according to an email from a spokesperson.

For Thomson, the appointment marks a return to JPMorgan. Though he is joining the firm from Ivy Asset Management, an investment manager owned by BNY Mellon, he previously worked at JPMorgan for nearly a decade as a managing director responsible for sales and servicing of sovereign clients.