Pictet targets Asia growth in independent asset management
Swiss firm Pictet & Cie announced the appointment of Sylvain Gysler from Credit Suisse as head of its new Independent Asset Managers (IAM) team based in Singapore.

In fact, Gysler joined the firm on June 1, together with another manager from Credit Suisse, and heads a new team of five offering the Pictet platform and private banking products and services to IAMs in Singapore and Hong Kong.

He replaces Etienne Billaud, his predecessor who quit Pictet towards the end of last year along with a team of three.

Last December, Bank of Singapore hired Billaud as executive director, along with Cedric Stadelmann and Stephanie Vite Hao Yen as directors and Elaine Chia as an associate director, to support external asset managers and global family offices.

In an interview with AsianInvestor, Gysler points out that Pictet has installed a bigger team than before focused on Asia and as such is targeting expected growth in this area.

He estimates that 15% of overall wealth in private banking assets in Switzerland is managed by IAMs – former private bankers who have set up a private asset management business to provide investment and asset allocation for clients, as Andrea Benenati, formerly of Julius Baer, moved to do this year.

Gysler believes that 10% of wealth will be managed in the same way in Asia within two years, and says Pictet aims to be one of the main players providing its platform to IAMs. Already it has around 50 people in its IAM business in Switzerland, and is hopeful of growth in Asia.

“We are among the biggest in this business in Europe, and we want to be among the main players in Asia as well,” he says. “We are five people now, but over time we hope to expand.

“The more mature a market the more private bankers there will be, some of whom will become independent when senior. We are interested in working with them, it is a win-win situation.”

Gysler reports to Remy Obermann, CEO of Pictet’s independent asset management business based in Geneva. Gysler previously led the IAM team for North Asia at Credit Suisse, based in Singapore.

PineBridge Investments adds veteran to head Asia product development
Investment manager PineBridge has hired industry veteran Anita Varga from ING Investment Management as its new head of product development for Asia.

Based in Hong Kong, Varga comes in as managing director to drive expansion of PineBridge’s Asia product offering for global investors and to coordinate product development initiatives in the Asia ex-Japan region.

“As we continue to carve out PineBridge’s emerging-market proposition, it is our ambition to realise the full potential of our Asian product manufacturing platform,” says Rajeev Mittal, CEO for PineBridge in Asia ex-Japan.

Varga has 25 years’ experience in the financial services industry. Prior to joining PineBridge she was regional head of products for ING Investment Management (Asia Pacific).

While there, she led the expansion of ING’s Luxembourg funds range into Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, and developed Cayman funds for distribution in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Prior to that she spent two years as regional head of product management for Asia-Pacific and Mena for Deutsche Asset Management (Asia), where she led a team of 15.

A spokesperson for ING IM confirmed that Varga had left the firm on October 21 and said an announcement about her replacement would be made in due course.

PineBridge is the former fund management arm of bailed out insurer AIG that was sold to Pacific Century Group last year.

PineBridge manages $77.9 billion in assets globally, of which nearly a third originates in Asia, according to Mittal. Equities accounts for $18.2 billion of the portfolio.

Only last month Pinebridge Investments announced the appointment of Desmond Tjiang from BNP Paribas IP as managing director and portfolio manager for Greater China and Hong Kong.

Broker-dealer Sanford C Bernstein gains SFC trading licence
US-based investment research firm and equities broker Sanford C Bernstein announced this week it had been approved for trading by Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission.

Over the last 12 months, the firm says it has grown from 20 staff to more than 50 in Asia-Pacific. It set up its Hong Kong office last year and now has an eight-strong cash and program trading desk in the city trading regional markets.

It has a sales team of six in Asia led by Mark Cox. It also has eight analysts in Hong Kong and two in Singapore, supported by 15 research staff in Hong Kong.

“Becoming a fully fledged member of the HKSE is a major milestone in the development of our operations, both in Hong Kong and more broadly in Asia,” says Daniel Gordon, Asia head of trading.

Sanford C Bernstein was established in New York 40 years ago and is also licensed to operate in London. It forms part of the AllianceBernstein group, which is listed in New York and by the Axa Group. It also has an operations licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

BNP Paribas adds senior wealth management trio
The wealth management business of BNP Paribas announced a trio of senior hires.

It confirmed news already broken by AsianInvestor that Alfred Tsai had quit Julius Baer and joined BNP wealth management as head of China, based in Hong Kong. He had been managing director and senior relationship manager (China focus) for Julius Baer from mid-2009 to mid-2011.

Also joining were Anton Wong as a managing director of the key client group based in Hong Kong, having been a director of Solution Partners at Credit Suisse; and Vincent Koo, who quit RBS Coutts to become regional head of compliance for the wealth management unit based in Singapore.

BNP Paribas confirmed that Brian Kenyon had relocated to Singapore as managing director of its Singapore Trust Corporation, effective from July 1. He also retains his role as deputy head of trust and fiduciary services.

Further, Wallace Woo started in mid-June as managing director and senior investment counsellor for key clients, based in Hong Kong. He had held similar roles at JP Morgan as senior investor and as senior director at HSBC Private Bank.

In January this year BNP Paribas announced it would be restructuring its regional wealth management business to focus on countries where it sees greatest market potential.

Nomura names chief Asia equity strategist from Macquarie
Investment bank Nomura announced the appointment of Michael Kurtz from Macquarie Securities as its new chief Asia equity strategist based in Hong Kong.

He joined the firm as a managing director this week and will work closely with Nomura’s economists, country strategists and sector heads to publish regional Asia equity strategy and the firm’s conviction list reports.

He comes in to replace Sean Darby, who quit Nomura earlier this year and was unveiled last month as global head of equity strategy for US investment bank Jefferies, based in Hong Kong.

Kurtz has over 15 years’ experience in the industry, having previously worked as Asian regional equity strategist for Macquarie Securities. Prior to that he was head of Asian equity research and an Asian equity strategist and economist at Bear Stearns.

He has also previously worked as an Asian FX strategist at IDEAglobal in New York and as an emerging markets analyst at Polyconomics.

Tora adds former UBS sales trading director
Miley Nakamura has joined brokerage Tora Liquidity Services as a sales trader based in Los Angeles to provide execution coverage for the Japan and pan-Asian markets.

Nakamura has 12 years’ experience trading Asia and previously worked for UBS as director of Japanese equities sales trading in Tokyo and director of pan-Asian equity sales trading in London. She has also held positions at Citi and Goldman Sachs.

She will now report to Khahlil Kirtman and Rob Santos at Tora. The US agency brokerage offers trading execution across Asia, North America and Europe. In Asia it has 175 staff with offices in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Other moves reported by AsianInvestor this week:

Julius Baer hires Kaven Leung from Goldman Sachs

International firm to delist all its ETFs in Hong Kong