Allianz Global Investors has promoted Eleanor Wan to CEO in Hong Kong, capping a year-long restructuring in which investment management brands under its umbrella are given autonomy and AllianzGI is turned into a distribution centre.

Wan has been with the firm for five years, and the new role is an extension of her existing duties as head of retail sales. She will now be responsible for distribution and service of all fund brands in the AllianzGI family for Hong Kong and to some extent China.

Alex Lee, who has worked for her since she joined the firm, has also been promoted as chief marketing officer at AllianzGI for Hong Kong, where he will work on improving service to third-party distributors.

The firm has restructured its regional businesses to reflect how it operates already in the United States and Europe, where individual brands like California-based RCM retained their independence and identity.

Mark Konyn is now CEO for RCM in Asia Pacific, while Bruce Kho is chairman of AllianzGI Asia Pacific and Douglas Eu is regional CEO. Wan reports to Doug Eu. Her regional counterparts are Ian Tham in Singapore, Frank Klausfelder in Taiwan and Lee Won-il in South Korea. AllianzGI also has a joint venture in China, Guotai Junan Allianz Fund Management, run by Chiang Hsien.

Wan says it is still early days for selling funds to China, where institutions and investors have largely ignored the recent opening through a qualified domestic institutional investor (QDII) scheme. But she will be looking at both product opportunities as well as investor education, in some cases in partnership with the JV, in others as a separate offshore effort.

Hong Kong investors are by comparison a lot more mature, but not as sophisticated as investors in the US or some European countries. But the concept of Ucits-3, introduced two years ago, has revolutionised what fund managers can do, Wan says. ôUcits-3 changed the concept of asset management and made our opportunities more flexible. But it also requires us to better educate investors, who sometimes are sceptical about the use of derivatives. We want them to understand that derivatives can help protect against risks as well.ö

RCM, a research-driven equities manager, and bond-house Pimco are already well known brands in Asia. But a priority for Wan will be to promote other members of the AllianzGI family, such as Nicholas Applegate (change-focused equities), Oppenheimer Capital (equity value) and NJF (equity value). Allianz counts itself as the third-largest player in global asset management, with over $1.7 trillion of assets under management.