Baillie Gifford has set up an onshore operation in Shanghai and poached the China head of a rival UK fund house to run it, as well as transferring in a portfolio manager from its head office, AsianInvestor can reveal.

Amy Wang, formerly of Aberdeen Standard Investments, started as head of China for the new investment management wholly foreign-owned enterprise (IM WFOE), Baillie Gifford Investment Management (Shanghai), on September 2.

Amy Wang

She had been head of China at Aberdeen since September 2017 and before that had led the Greater China institutional business at Amundi Pioneer Asset Management. She had also worked for Franklin Templeton Investments.

Wang is being joined by John MacDougall, a global equities manager and 19-year veteran of Baillie Gifford. He has relocated to Shanghai from Edinburgh with his family as chairman of the WFOE, a spokeswoman told AsianInvestor.

RESEARCH FOCUS

Baillie Gifford, which has £206 billion ($266 billion) in assets under management, is initially looking to build up its China investment and research capabilities and network.

“The new office will enable us to broaden our investment research base in China, deepen our longstanding relationships with many of China's most exciting growth companies and forge further links with the local academic community,” the spokeswoman said.

“In the medium term, the Shanghai office will also enable us to explore more opportunities in the Chinese domestic and foreign asset management sector.”

This approach to the onshore mainland business differs from that of some of the other foreign fund houses, which have already put in place sales and investment teams with view to tapping onshore institutional and wealthy investors, and ultimately the retail market.

TALENT BATTLE

It's been a trend for firms to hire from competitors to head or staff their mainland businesses, in light of the huge demand for and tight supply of suitable talent in China.

Most of the big global fund house names now have onshore IM WFOEs and either have – or are applying for – private fund management (PFM) licences that allow them to manage and distribute products in China.

Baillie Gifford’s move into China comes nearly four years after it established its first Asia office, in Hong Kong. It is also building its headcount in the territory, hiring Edward Lo in October from Pictet Asset Management to run the fund manager’s Asia intermediaries business. The Baillie Gifford spokeswoman declined to say how it had covered that segment before he arrived.

Lo had started on the intermediary business team in March 2012 at Pictet AM. Before that, he spent seven-and-a-half years at Allianz Global Investors covering distribution in Greater China.