Aberdeen Asset Management is opening an office in Japan with a license to provide advisory services. The initial reason is to transfer part of the investment process for Japanese equities from Singapore to Tokyo, but the company intends to build an onshore business-development presence as well, says Patrick Corfe, director of marketing in Singapore.

The firm has managed Japanese equities since 1992. Its bottom-up stock-picking style makes having an onshore presence desirable. Only recently, however, has the firm gained enough size to warrant the expense.

Last year it gained a number of new Japanese clients when it purchased fund management units based in London and Philadelphia from Deutsche Asset Management. Corfe says these units run multiple asset classes but are especially strong in fixed income, with their origins in the old Morgan Grenfell franchise. The addition of Japanese clientele combined with growing asset size made the idea of opening a Tokyo office compelling.

Pascal Masse will head the office. He is a Japanese equity manager who has been with Aberdeen since 2000. He will have three other investment professionals working with him in Tokyo.

The advisory license will allow the firm to undertake company research. Aberdeen plans to win a discretionary asset management license next year, to allow it to also manage funds onshore and do marketing, which will require a senior hire. The firm manages $1.8 billion in Japanese equities.