The team behind the Portfolios – Manulife Asset Management’s Asset Allocation Team

Applying active asset allocation successfully takes a proven team. Manulife Asset Management’s Asset Allocation Team has built its reputation and global wealth management credentials on its asset allocation expertise. With over CAD $147 billion1 in assets under management, the group manages a wide variety of investment solutions around the globe designed to meet investor goals.

The Asset Allocation Team’s Investment Process:

The Asset Allocation Team’s investment process is amongst the most comprehensive in the industry and ensures every portfolio is optimized by asset class, investment style, and geographic region. They apply a rigorous three-step process:

Step 1:

Build expected return forecasts

  • Five-year investment returns forecast for 140 different asset classes
  • Distinct approaches for asset classes
  • Quarterly review

Step 2:

Asset class and strategy selection

  • Asset allocation is the primary driver of returns
  • Selection of complementary strategies with an emphasis on consistent results
  • Annual review

Step 3:

Portfolio Construction

  • Four-pillar approach to ongoing active management
  • Emphasis on managing risk
  • Short term opportunities reviewed weekly

Meet the Team:

Portfolio Managers

Nathan Thooft, CFA, is a senior managing director, senior portfolio manager and global head of the Asset Allocation Team at Manulife Asset Management. The Asset Allocation Team is responsible for the development and growth of Manulife’s asset allocation solutions for individual and institutional investors in the US, Canada and Asia. Solutions include target risk, target date as well as a wide array of strategic, tactical and absolute return multi-asset class portfolios. During his time with Manulife, Nathan has served in many senior asset allocation and research roles spanning Canada, Asia and the US. As head of the Asset Allocation Team, is responsible for overseeing all aspects of Manulife’s asset allocation franchise, including portfolio management, research and development, product development, business development and trading.

Previously, Nathan was vice president and director of investments, Investment Management Services (IMS), for John Hancock Financial, the US division of Manulife Financial Corp. Nathan was responsible leading manager research efforts, asset class research, and for the development and daily monitoring of investment platforms in the US and Asia. Prior to joining John Hancock, Nathan was a senior portfolio analyst within the investment management division of Fidelity Investments, where he was responsible for research and investment communications for the small- and mid-cap equity teams. More Nathan also served as vice president, senior product consultant at RBC Wealth Management, a leading US broker dealer. In that role, he developed customized asset allocation and investment strategies, evaluated traditional and alternative investment managers, and consulted for a large national brokerage force. Nathan is a CFA charterholder, and he is a member of the Boston Security Analysts Society and the CFA Institute.

Education: University of Minnesota, BA, 2000; University of Minnesota, MBA, 2006
Joined Company: 2008
Began Career: 2000

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James “Jamie” Robertson, MBA, CIM, is a senior managing director, senior portfolio manager and Head of Asset Allocation, Canada at Manulife Asset Management. The Asset Allocation Team is responsible for the development and growth of Manulife’s asset allocation solutions for individual and institutional investors in the US, Canada and Asia. Solutions include target risk, target date as well as a wide array of strategic, tactical and absolute return multi-asset class portfolios. Based in Toronto, Jamie is responsible for overseeing all aspects of Manulife’s Canadian asset allocation franchise, including portfolio management, research and development, product development, business development and trading. He leads Canadian portfolio management efforts across a wide range of multi-asset and multi-manager solutions.

Previously, Jamie was the chief investment officer for McLean and Partners in Calgary. Prior to that, he was vice president, proprietary investments (equities) at Manulife Financial, following four years as an internal hedge fund manager there. More Earlier in his career, he held executive positions at CTSecurities, JP Morgan Canada, and BLC Securities. Jamie holds a Canadian Investment Manager (CIM) Designation from the Canadian Securities Institute.

Education: University of New Brunswick, BBA, 1979; Concordia University, MBA, 1982
Joined Company: 2016
Began Career: 1982

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Portfolio Specialist

Benjamin W. Forssell, CFA, is a managing director and global multi-asset client portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management. Benjamin supports investment capabilities within Manulife’s Multi-Asset Solutions team (MAST), including the globally-based Asset Allocation Team, Quantitative Management Team which focus on liability-driven investing and other various liquid alternative investments. Benjamin heads up the North American client portfolio manager team supporting MAST whose responsibilities include all aspects of product management, assisting client facing teams in the effective communication and positioning of MAM’s asset allocation capabilities with clients, prospects and consultants.

Prior to joining Manulife’s asset management organization, Benjamin was assistant vice president & head of platform development for Manulife’s Asia Wealth Management team based in Hong Kong, managing fund selection and development for Manulife’s wealth management businesses in Asia. Prior to joining Asia Wealth Management, Benjamin worked for Manulife/John Hancock in the United States in various roles including fund selection for Manulife’s US-based wealth management businesses and a role in sales, selling separately managed accounts to independent financial advisors targeting high net worth individuals. More Benjamin started his career at Lord, Abbett & Company selling mutual funds, retirement plans and separately managed accounts to financial advisors across the United States. Benjamin is a CFA charterholder.

Education: Colgate University, BA in Philosophy and Religion, 2000
Joined Company: 2013
Began Career: 2000

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