Aberdeen building Asia multi-asset team

The UK fund house has jumped on Asia's multi-asset bandwagon by poaching Irene Goh from AllianceBernstein, and expects to add two more to her team. Insurers are a key target.
Aberdeen building Asia multi-asset team

The asset-allocation bandwagon keeps on rolling in Asia, with Aberdeen Asset Management the latest to jump on. The UK fund house has hired Irene Goh from US rival AllianceBernstein to take up the newly created role of regional head of multi-asset solutions.

Starting in the Hong Kong post on May 3, she will have responsibility for building a regional multi-asset investment team, which will likely be three-strong by the end of the year. The plan is to add a portfolio manager and product specialist. 

Goh was Asia-Pacific head of multi-asset investments at AllianceBernstein, which said it was hiring a replacement. She has also worked for Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC and UBS Asset Management. 

Asset-allocation products have experienced a big increase in demand in recent years, and fund houses are betting on that momentum continuing. In March, Singapore’s Fullerton Fund Management hired its first head of multi-asset strategies, and firms such as Barings, Nomura AM and Standard Life Investments are moving to expand their product range in the region.

As of December 31, Aberdeen's multi-asset investment solutions amounted to £83.3 billion ($121.3 billion), having been boosted by the acquisition of UK rival Scottish Widows Investment Partnership two years ago. 

Goh will lead the regional effort to design and manage multi-asset solutions for retail and institutional distribution, as well as joining the multi-asset team responsible for the global range of growth and income strategies. The team is led globally by Archie Struthers, to whom Goh will report.

Aberdeen will be marketing its multi-asset solutions to a wide range of clients in the region, but insurance companies will be a key target, said Alex Boggis, managing director at Aberdeen International Fund Managers, the firm's Hong Kong arm. 

Insurers will be more keen to diversify into multi-asset strategies, he told AsianInvestor, as the low-interest-rate environment has made it difficult for them to meet their liabilities.

The trend towards higher risk-capital charges – whereby insurers must set aside cash in proportion to the riskiness of assets they invest in – is an additional challenge. Insurance firms are increasingly allocating to equities, for instance, which will carry a much higher capital charge than cash or bonds. Multi-asset strategies carry a lower capital charge than equities, but can potentially achieve a better return, said Boggis.

The capital charge requirement is imposed in Europe, but not across all of Asia as yet. Hong Kong, for instance, does not impose it, but China does, through the China Risk Oriented Solvency System regime. 

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