AllianceBernstein to tap senior trio for institutional sales

The firm is set to announce another senior addition in Hong Kong shortly after two big hires as it steps up its quest for institutional business in Asia. It is also building in Asian fixed income.
AllianceBernstein to tap senior trio for institutional sales

AllianceBernstein is beefing up its sales and servicing team in Asia, while adding to its fixed income capabilities and moving to integrate its value and growth equity coverage in the region.

The US-based manager, with $424 billion in AUM globally, revealed it had hired Sun Hao from Amundi last Friday as managing director and head of institutional sales, based in Hong Kong.

It comes just a month after the firm added Jennifer Leong from Prudential Asset Management as managing director and head of institutional sales, based in Singapore.

Both hires were made to fill a hole created by the departure of June Wong, former managing director of institutional sales for Asia ex-Japan, to Threadneedle last August.

But given Sun’s experience (at Amundi he was head of business development for China, and before that he took care of institutional sales for China at Pimco) he will focus on mainland China and Taiwan. And AsianInvestor has learned that AllianceBernstein is set to announce the addition of another senior sales adviser based in Hong Kong.

Sources say this will be a transfer from its US office also at managing director level, with an announcement expected next month. It is understood the new appointee will be American who will target English-speaking clients in both Hong Kong and Singapore.

That would mean that AllianceBernstein will have gone from having no senior head of institutional sales for the region for nine months, to having three. Already it has Seok Jai Lee covering institutional sales in Korea, where it gained a full asset management licence in 2008.

Brian Lo, director and head of marketing and communications for Asia at AllianceBernstein, confirms: “We felt we were under-represented in the Asia region. We want a full sales team to target institutional business aggressively.”

In terms of client servicing, AllianceBernstein is adding an associate to be based in Hong Kong from next month, replacing Rebecca Schrage who left late last year. That will bring the client servicing team back up to seven, split between Singapore and Hong Kong.

All of the above will report to Ajai Kaul, the firm’s CEO for Asia ex-Japan, who has responsibility for sales and servicing across the region.

AllianceBernstein has also been building up its regional fixed income team (an area previously highlighted by Kaul as one it wanted to build), which is led by Hayden Briscoe based out of Melbourne.

It has added four staff in the past few months, including Vincent Tsui as an economist and Ho Jung Kang as a credit analyst, both based in Hong Kong, and Yu Feng Liu as a quant analyst based in Melbourne. Plus in January it rehired Jae Heung Yoo from a local securities firm to cover Korean fixed income. That takes its fixed income team in the region to 14.

In total, fixed income is understood to account for around 80% of AllianceBernstein’s Asia ex-Japan AUM of around $31 billion. Globally it has $225 billion in fixed income assets.

AsianInvestor also understands that AllianceBernstein is moving to integrate its value and growth equity teams in the region in the first half of this year, in sync with a global realignment.

The firm is far more focused on value investing, with a breakdown of staff showing it has 13 people in its value shop, and just three in its growth team (where it has lost two staff recently). Stuart Rae, who was regional CIO for value equity, will take over responsibility for the integrated team.

Overall AllianceBernstein manages $131 billion in equities, but it does not break out its regional numbers. That makes it a little over half the size of its fixed income business.

Amundi confirmed that Sun Hao left the company at the end of February and that a replacement had not yet been found.

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