Spy’s domestic commander-in-chief has been on the healthy living warpath; a nasty habit she develops from time-to-time. Beer has been temporarily banned from the fridge, late night visits to Ebeneezer's Kebab strictly prohibited and scariest of all, something called a ‘kale smoothie’ with almond milk and flax seeds has been included in the morning victuals. It was, therefore, in a diminished state of mind and joy that Spy found himself caught in a mass of locked traffic that stretched from Sheung Wan to Admiralty, brought on by Number Three’s visit to Hong Kong this week. Zhang Dejiang was long on platitudes and lunches but short on information on the all-important Shenzhen-HK stock connect. Perhaps Madam Zhang can offer him a soothing kale shake, too, until he gets his priorities right?
Spy notes that Fidelity has been beefing up its team in Hong Kong of late. Pieter Bakker, formerly of State Street and ING Asset Management, has joined as head of comms this month. This follows hot on the heels of Simon Godfrey joining the team in a regional specialist marketing function. Simon was previously at BNP Paribas Investment Partners before creating startup Arris Partners.
Sabrina Kwek has joined Allianz Global Investors, hears Spy, to support sales. Sabrina was, until recently, heading up private bank sales between Hong Kong and Singapore for Mirae Asset Management. She continues to be based in Hong Kong. No doubt Mr Ashley Dale is hunting for a replacement as none has been confirmed, well not to Spy anyway.
Moving to the tropics, Eaton Vance has hired Leah Lam in a sales support role from BNP Paribas. She joins Rob White and Jason Fung as EV builds out its regional sales. EV, has in this regard, thinks Spy, followed an emerging trend in Asian asset management: hiring from financial services but not directly from other asset managers. Leah came from the investment bank at BNP.
Spy hears that Dorcas Ng, formally of Stan Chart’s fund analysis team, has turned up at Bank of Singapore. Word on the (hot summer) street is that Dorcas has shifted into an investment councillor role. Another Bank of Singapore recruit is Serene Ang, who has joined from Coutts to work with Hsiao Ching.
More shuffling. Spy hears that HSBC Private Bank in Singapore has lost fund influencer Su-Mein Seng, who is leaving to go to an unspecified new positon. With so much fund selection power located in London, Spy wonders whether HSBC is doing itself any favours with its role allocation for Singapore.
Despite the rather sluggish fund market, it seems there is no shortage of openings for sales roles at asset managers, at least in the Lion City. Companies with openings include: Nikko, Jupiter, Columbia Threadneedle and Pimco. The story doing the rounds is that Pimco is going to go retail in Singapore and has headhunters furiously calling all and sundry. The bigger question is whether Pimco can do retail well, wonders Spy? It might mean spending evenings in Woodlands, Tampines and Jurong – a far cry from the plush surrounds of Wheelock Place and Orchard Road…Two roles that have recently been filled but not announced: Old Mutual Global Investors has found its Southeast Asian regional sales director, who will report to Carol Wong in Hong Kong; at Schroders, Albert Tse has added to his team. Spy had only unreliable rumours on their identities and so will leave those for another week.
If you were wanting to chat to NAB Wealth Advisory in Hong Kong, you need to look at a new place in the phone book. NAB has changed its name to Oreana Financial Wealth due to a takeover at the end of April. Long-time chief investment officer, Norman Chan, remains the same, notes Spy. Oreana has offices in Melbourne and Hong Kong and will continue to advise high net worth clients.
Much has been made this week of Credit Suisse placing a wealth team on the ground in Thailand. This hardly raised an eyebrow with Spy. After all, the Land of Smiles has plenty of very wealthy people who are having to endure the double whammy of uncharacteristically low interest rates and a weak currency. Having a team on the ground in Bangkok will be a lot cheaper than Hong Kong or Singapore, thinks Spy. Will UBS and J.P. Morgan follow suit?
With Bank of Singapore’s Barclays Wealth takeover, one interesting titbit has surfaced. BoS now has 17% of its assets in discretionary portfolios. That is edging closer to market leader, UBS. Bank of Singapore is hoping to get that figure closer to 40%, according to several reports. Expect a lot more talk about mandates, and I am not talking about Tinder.
Spy's roving photographers in Hong Kong caught Allianz on a taxi this week. Spy knows he should've taken an Allianz-branded taxi, which for some strange reason was not tied up in the traffic jam created by Number Three's visit:
With summer around the corner, Spy is getting his popcorn out; so much jolly sound and fury to observe. Furious Brexit debates and frothing at the mouth from Eurocrat elites worrying that the perfidious British might halt their gravy train on June 23rd; across the pond, the Americans are ramping up their trade war with China with a staggering 522% duty on certain steel products; then there’s the US election…the perfect antidote to the hot sweltering weather that has arrived. Stay happy and have a craft beer and double hamburger for your health-constrained Spy. Until next week...