Putnam plants China flag, eyes Asia growth
US-based money manager Putnam Investments announced it had opened a representative office in Beijing as part of its regional growth strategy.

The office will be managed by Michael Luo as chief rep, who joined from Invesco Great Wall in Shenzhen, where he established a fixed income team and focused on institutional clients.

Prior to that Luo worked for China sovereign wealth fund CIC in Beijing, helping to establish its first fixed income team. He also researched and selected global investment managers to run mandates for the fund.

He started his career in investment research and portfolio management with Morgan Stanley Investment Management in 1998.

Luo is now tasked with building and managing Putnam’s relationships with governmental and private institutions across China. He will also develop its country strategy and evaluate its staffing needs. He reports to Joseph Phoenix, head of Putnam Global Institutional Management.

“Putnam is placing an important stake in the ground to potentially offer our investment management, product design and distribution expertise to one of the most important growth markets in the world,” states Robert Reynolds, president and CEO of Putnam Investments.

Headquartered in Boston, Putnam is an active bottom-up manager with an investment office in Singapore and sales and client service presences in Sydney and Tokyo.

Reynolds adds the firm is eager to expand its analyst research team in Singapore and grow its business in Japan, where it manages $5.8 billion in assets (mostly through its partnership with Nissay Asset Management).

Overall Putnam manages $124 billion in assets globally as at the end of April this year, with $62.4 billion in mutual funds and $61.3 billion in institutional assets.

Group head of AIA partner distribution joins Friends Life
Friends Life, the parent company of Friends Provident International, announced it had hired James Lai-Hing Tan from AIA as general manager for Asia and the Middle East.

Based in Hong Kong, Tan will report to John van der Wielen, CEO international at Friends Life. The firm says his hire reflects a strategy to align the structure of its international division with its core markets.

Most recently Tan worked as group head for AIA’s partner distribution business based in Hong Kong. He also spent seven years as global head of bancassurance at Standard Chartered.

The international (non-UK) business of Friends Life has 1,100 staff in eight offices. Friends Provident provides life assurance, pensions and investment products for Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the UK.

Plan B adds business development manager in Australia
Boutique wealth manager Plan B Group Holdings announced the re-appointment of Kieren James from Shadforth Financial Group as business development manager.

He started in Perth this week and is responsible for building Plan B’s strategy to help executives and staff of partner companies with financial advice as part of their employee benefits.

Plan B Group is headquartered in Perth, with offices across the eastern seaboard of Australia and New Zealand. It has about 18,500 superannuation fund clients and over 20,000 clients overall, with $2.26 billion in funds under management, administration or advice as at March 31.

Previously James delivered financial planning advice to high-net-worth clients with Shadforth, and has also worked at Outlook Financial Solutions. He has also previously worked as a technical adviser for Plan B Financial Services, as the company was formerly known.

Asset Control opens office in Tokyo’s financial district
Data management firm Asset Control announced it had opened a new office in Tokyo’s financial district and appointed Hidet Kobayashi as country manager.

Kobayashi started in his new role last month, having previously worked for "a major capital market solutions provider", according to a statement. He has also worked for Thomson Reuters.

“Japan is at a turning point in its financial markets infrastructure,” says John Mitchell, vice-president of global sales at Asset Control.

“Market participants have become much more global in their outlook, and whether it’s the Japanese FSA’s interpretation of the Basel III accord or banks looking increasingly for international trading strategies, a more complex operating environment is inevitable.

“The changes are having an explosive effect on the amount of data market participants need to consume.”

AlixPartners hires managing director in Seoul
Business advisory firm AlixPartners has hired Yung Chung from McKinsey as managing director based in Seoul.

Chung was formerly a senior partner for McKinsey specialising in corporate growth strategies and M&A advisory, as well as client services leader in South Korea. He has also worked for AT Kearney and Booz Allen Hamilton.

Among its services, AlixPartners provides financial advisory and works with multi-national corporations and companies in Korea and elsewhere.