Richard Surrency has left his post as Asia-Pacific head of transition management at Morgan Stanley, as regional TM executives point to challenging conditions for their business.

The bank has confirmed Surrency’s departure and that he is on garden leave. He has not been replaced and the bank declined to comment on whether he would be.

He had reported to Zach Tuckwell, Asia-Pacific head of electronic trading based in Hong Kong, who is now overseeing the regional TM business.

Surrency joined Morgan Stanley in the role in January 2009, before which he was Asia head of sales at BNY Mellon, looking after sales of custody, securities lending, fund administration, and performance and risk services.

The markets are proving infertile ground for transition managers in Asia-Pacific, say executives, whose business relies on helping institutional investors make changes to their portfolios.

“So far 2012 has been pretty quiet in the TM space, as asset owners – i.e. pension and sovereign wealth funds – in the region wait for volatility to subside and the market to develop some sort of direction,” says Tom Wyse, Asia-Pacific head of TM at Credit Suisse in Sydney. “Without a meaningful resolution to the European situation, I don’t see this changing any time soon.”

In terms of the activity he has seen, Wyse points to “a lot of fixed income shifting between global bond portfolios with a skew away from Europe. Also global developed-market equity rebalances”.

However, more notable activity has taken place in terms of regional TM personnel moves. News emerged late last month that Mark Levinson, head of TM at Goldman Sachs in Australia, is leaving the bank to run investor relations for a new hedge fund, MST Capital.

The firm is being set up by an ex-UBS proprietary trading team led by Gerard Satur, the Swiss bank’s head of macro strategic trading. The traders will reportedly exit UBS in mid-March but are likely to retain an ongoing relationship with the bank.

Sources say other TM providers are now putting calls in to Goldman’s clients in an attempt to poach business. “[Levinson’s move] was a big shock to the industry, and now every TM on the street is fighting over the Goldman carcass,” one TM executive tells AsianInvestor.

Levinson had been with Goldman since mid 2008, when he joined from Citi, having founded the latter’s Australian TM business some nine years before.

Yet despite Levinson’s departure, Goldman has a more than capable team in the form of executives such as Greg Woodham, adds the source, who works for another firm.