Joseph To promoted to chief agency officer for Prudential Hong Kong
Prudential Assurance has named Joseph To as chief agency officer to drive distribution of its investment-linked and general insurance products to retail and high-net-worth investors.

To, who led an agency development team since joining Prudential Hong Kong in 2010, will oversee a team of 5,300 consultants, as well as support teams, training and operations.

His promotion was effective from January 1 and he reports to Derek Yung, CEO of Prudential Hong Kong. He succeeds John Johnson, who retired on December 31.

To has worked in the insurance industry for 30 years, including leading a 2,000-strong sales force at Ageas Insurance, formerly known as Pacific Century Insurance.

Immediately prior to Prudential To worked as executive vice-president at Freeman Financial Services, a subsidiary of Hong Kong listed Freeman Corporation.

Prudential Hong Kong has a strategic partnership with Standard Chartered Bank and Citibank, as well as a wide range of bancassurance, MPF and pension management services. It is a subsidiary of holding company Prudential, which had £349.5 billion ($537 billion) in assets as at June 30.

Jackson Lee named chief representative of Fidelity’s rep office in Beijing
Fidelity Worldwide Investment has announced the appointment of Jackson Lee as chief representative of its Beijing rep office.

He is now responsible for coordinating the company’s overall China strategy and will continue an active dialogue with various regulators.

“Our Beijing representative office serves as a key centre for understanding the future developments of business opportunities in China, which is essential for driving our plans in this promising market,” says Larry Chen, head of China for Fidelity Worldwide Investment.

Lee has 12 years’ experience working at financial firms in various capacities, including business management, strategic development and M&A in New York and Hong Kong.

He joined Fidelity in March 2010 as director of business strategy and planning, reporting to Asia-Pacific CEO Arne Lindman. In this role he helped to develop business strategies for China.

Prior to joining Fidelity, Lee worked as business manager to the chief executive for funds management Asia at Prudential Corporation Asia.

Fidelity Worldwide was managing $257.3 billion globally as at September 30 last year.

Threadneedle names head of governance and responsible investment
Iain Richards is poised to join UK-based Threadneedle Investments on February 20 as head of governance and responsible investment.

Richards will raise the London-based team’s headcount to three and report to Leigh Harrison, head of equities. He replaces Therese Niklasson, who left last summer to join banking and asset management firm Investec.

Richards joined from Aviva Investors, where he had worked as regional head of corporate governance since 2003. Before that, he was head of corporate governance at Schroder IM. He has also worked at the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry, the London Stock Exchange and the UK Listing Authority.

Threadneedle’s governance and responsible investments team comprises Cathrine De Coninck-Smith, governance and RI analyst and Fionnuala O’Grady, junior governance and RI analyst.

Richards will be responsible for ESG research, policy and engagement on behalf of the team globally. O’Grady was the most recent addition before him, having come on board in the second half of last year.

The appointment reflects a trend for asset managers to put increasing focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and sustainable investing.

Certain fund houses have governance and RI specialists in Asia Pacific, including Aberdeen Asset Management, BlackRock, BNP Paribas Investment Partners, First State Investments and HSBC Global Asset Management.

Threadneedle is a signatory to the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investing and a member of organisations including the Asian Corporate Governance Association and the Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia, as well as several in Europe.

“We vote actively in Asian markets,” says a spokeswoman for Threadneedle. “Currently the Asian fund managers have access to the ESG research carried out by the team. However, we need to wait for Iain to join before talking about their priorities in the future.”

Threadneedle Investments manages around $93 billion in assets, with more than $50 billion invested in equities.

SFC appoints Kerry Ching to product advisory committee
Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission announced the appointment of Kerry Kim Wai Ching as a member of the products advisory committee, effective from November 28.

It comes after Desmond Kay Yiu Ng stepped down. The committee is chaired by Alexa Cheung Lam and was established on August 10, 2010. Each member’s term runs until March 31, 2012.

The committee may be consulted on matters relating to unit trusts and mutual funds, investment-linked assurance schemes and unlisted structured investment products; the SFC code on MPF products; and the code on pooled retirement funds, overall market environment, industry practices and novel product features.

BoA Merrill in U-turn over ETF specialist Fuhr
It has emerged that former BlackRock exchange-traded fund (ETF) specialist Deborah Fuhr will not be joining Bank of America Merrill Lynch, as previously announced.

London-based Fuhr, who was industry-respected as head of ETF research and implementation strategy at BlackRock, was due to join BoA Merrill last year as head of global delta one strategy.

But a spokesperson for the bank confirmed this role had been scrapped. The firm has announced numerous cutbacks and recently revealed that 15 managing directors from Asia (including Japan and Australia) would be axed, as reported by our sister publication FinanceAsia.

Fuhr was due to report to Piers Butler, BoA Merrill’s head of the Emea global equity, macro and events group, having left BlackRock last July. It is understood she is pursuing other opportunities.

Other moves reported by AsianInvestor this week:

RBS makes heavy cuts in Asia equities division

BoA Merrill names Seaton to head Asia-Pacific prime brokerage

Lombard Odier adds Asia CIO, targets investment build-out