It may be the end of summer, but asset management news can still be overheard by the one who always listens, the Spy. And he's learned that Noelle Lim has now joined Invesco in Singapore, reporting to Jalil Rasheed. Noelle has joined from Franklin Templeton. Invesco, which has been traditionally institutionally-focused in Singapore, is ramping up their wholesale efforts and making a play for private bank and retail bank distribution. Spy understands that Invesco will be promoting their infrastructure fund in the coming months.
As reported a few weeks ago by Spy, Chia Chia Chng has moved from NN Investment Partners and Spy can now reveal that she will soon join JP Morgan Asset Management to help Brian Tan with his private bank efforts in the region. JP Morgan has been successfully growing their wholesale base in the city-state and Southeast Asia in the last few years. Spy understands that JPM has had a record year in Thailand, which has brought assets in that market to north of $1.4bn now. BlackRock has, in contrast to 2014, had a rather dismal year in the Land of Smiles and is seeing assets bleed away. Easy come, easy go?
Not to be outdone on the recruitment front, Jupiter, the rapidly expanding British asset manager, has hired Madeline Han from Franklin Templeton to join David Conway and support his distribution efforts.
Spy, reaching for his second Laphroaig whisky of the evening, overhead talk at the next table that Cheryl Tan has moved from Julius Baer to HSBC Private Bank in Singapore to take over from Alex Kwan in the local fund selection/advisory role. That is not the only loss at JB recently. Spy has also heard market talk that Jiun Wen Chee has left to go to Bank of Singapore in a role looking at alternatives and private equity.
But the Spy had to grab both arms of his chair when he heard the most surprising rumour of the week: Corinne Cheok, long-time stalwart at Aberdeen, is stepping down. The Spy has been accurate on rumoured departures in the past, faithful readers will recall. And sure enough, marketing director Patrick James Justin Corfe has confirmed her departure, adding that "she’s stepping down at the end of next month after 19 years". Not the best news for Aberdeen, which has a share price plumbing a 52-week low this week while sentiment for emerging market funds sours.
Spy’s roving band of photographers (favourably compared to Sherlock Holmes’s helpful street urchins) has been capturing asset managers shouting about their capabilities from the rooftops. Well, Raffles Place anyway. Allianz Global has been pushing Europe in the MRT and above ground.
Fidelity has a giant brand campaign in Raffles Place. The frogman pictured in the creative seems most appropriate with the recent break in the equatorial drought Singapore has been experiencing.
Eastspring, M&G’s more established but distinctly retail-flavoured cousin, has been cosying up to UOB, as captured in this ad featuring Robert Rountree, Eastspring's global strategist:
In Hong Kong, Amundi continues to show up on key bus routes, pitching its Global Aging Planet Opportunities Fund to retail investors:
Pictet Asset Management will unveil a new campaign soon, with details to come in a future Spy. But the news in the SAR is scarce during the summer slowdown, so the Spy switched from asset management ad spotting to his second favourite sport, which requires nuanced knowledge. “The Yamazaki 18-year old single malt is smoother”, a guest told Spy on Monday evening in Hong Kong. "You should try it and ditch that outdated west coast scotch you keep drinking”.
Ending this week is a note about China. In Hong Kong you can put your palms up and feel the economic engine humming across the border (even without the Yamazaki). The Chinese government figures say GDP is growing around 7%, but asset managers and their teams tell Spy they don’t believe it. Now there’s some startling proof.
The Economist’s unofficial “Keqiang index”, which measures growth indicators such as electricity use and rail freight volumes, was analysed by UK consultancy Fathom. They put China’s annual GDP growth at 3.1%, slightly above the US’s weary engine.