Last week's hire of Ray Chan signals a bigger focus on BEA Union Investment Management's Greater China retail business, says chief executive Ilex Lam Ka-keung.

Chan joined the firm in Hong Kong last week as head of retail business for Greater China, moving from Allianz Global Investors (AGI) in Hong Kong.

He arrives following the end-2009 departure of head of retail business Timmons Lam, but is not a "direct replacement", says the firm. Lam had worked for BEA Union for two years, mainly focusing on Hong Kong. 

Reporting to Ilex Lam, Chan is responsible for shaping the retail sales and distribution strategy in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, centring on the company's core strengths, Asian equity and fixed income. He will also lead a product development team for mutual fund and MPF products.

"We will enlarge our QDII products range, as well as expand the distribution channel later this year," Lam tells AsianInvestor, "and are working closely with leading financial institutions in China to work on the development of QDII products."

Since 2007, the fund manager has sold its mutual-fund products via the QDII scheme in BEA China branches and so far has five products on its shelves. They are the BEA Asia Strategic Growth Fund, BEA Hong Kong Growth Fund, BEA Union Investment Global Themes Fund, BEA Union Investment Global Resources Fund and BEA Union Investment Asian Bond and Currency Fund.

BEA Union is also planning to add more resources to the client-servicing team, by splitting the team into a China market and Hong Kong market focus. Besides regular updates and training on product or market materials, the company will communicate "more proactively" with existing and potential distributors via joint events, says Lam.

BEA Union will make use of Union Investments' global-markets investment capabilities in Frankfurt for its Greater China business. (The two firms formed the joint venture in early 2007, and Union Investments ranked third in the retail asset management business in Germany as of February 26.)

As vice-president at AGI, Chan originated and implemented the overall retail business and positioning strategies with several multinational distributors.

With a decade of industry experience in mutual fund distribution and market development, he has worked for Schroders Investment Management and Legg Mason Investment. He also worked in mutual-fund distribution for Capital International in the region via private banks, retail banks, IFAs and insurance companies.

BEA Union has between $4 billion and $5 billion in assets under management, 58% of which is institutional client money, 29% MPF assets and 13% Securities and Futures Commission-authorised unit trust/retail assets.