BEA Union on hiring drive, readies funds

Having rebuilt its team following a string of departures over the past two years, the firm is now looking for talent to bolster its operations as it sets out to launch a string of new products.
BEA Union on hiring drive, readies funds

BEA Union Investment is on a hiring drive as it prepares to launch a series of new products this year, including a renminbi-denominated qualified foreign institutional investor (RQFII) fund. 

The firm tells AsianInvestor it is looking for equity and fixed income portfolio managers. It comes after BEA Union moved to rebuild its team following a series of departures over the past two years.

Rex Lo, managing director for business development, said BEA had restructured its investment team and replaced departed staff. Now it is seeking to add managers to enhance its capabilities and support upcoming fund launches. 

The firm is anticipating approval of its RQFII licence soon, having applied for it in August last year. It will then apply for an investment quota from Chinese authorities, which Lo expects to be Rmb1 billion ($161 million). 

In terms of its business priorities, BEA Union is intent on expanding its product range and extending its advisory services this year to include asset management firms. 

It is set to launch its first product of the year this week – a retail fund investing in Asia Pacific equities and debt securities utilising top-down screening and bottom-up analysis to construct a low-volatility portfolio. 

Lo said this fund would be available in Hong Kong and mainland China, the latter via its partnership with Bank of East Asia (China) under the qualified domestic institutional investor (QDII) scheme. 

On the advisory side, Lo sees an opportunity to provide services in Europe for Asian fixed income on account of low yields in the European debt market, which is driving investors into other markets. 

BEA has been providing advisory to its German partner, Union Asset Management, which launched a Ucits version of its Asian fixed income fund last year. Lo is looking to provide more support on Asian securities to its German partner. 

BEA's investment team took a hit in 2013 when its CIO Elke Schoeppl-Jost left. She was followed out of the door by head of fixed income Henry Wong. Both of them subsequently joined Deutsche Asset Management.

BEA Union replaced them last year by hiring Henry Chan as CIO and then promoting Pheona Tsang as head of fixed income, as reported.

John Chang, investment analyst, and Billy Chan, product development manager, also quit last year. The firm replaced them with Vaughn Chang as senior equity investment director, and Michelle Lee as head of product development.

John Chang resurfaced this month as director for ETFs at Samsung Asset Management, while Billy Chan joined Neuberger Berman last June as senior product manager in Hong Kong. He reports to Elina Choy, senior vice-president and head of Asia-Pacific product and marketing.

BEA further hired fixed income portfolio manager Morgan Lau to fill the gap in the fixed income team following Tsang’s promotion. 

In addition, the firm recruited Keith Cheung as chief operating officer from HSBC Institutional Trust Services (Asia), where he was head of client solutions. BEA declined to say who Cheung replaced. 

Lo, who joined the firm six months ago, said the team was now stable with 15 staff, three of whom are covering global equities in partnership with Union Asset Management. 

While initially looking to add at least two investment professionals, Lo said BEA would hire more if the talent became available. He noted that with more asset management firms establishing operations in Hong Kong in preparation for the launch of the Hong Kong-China mutual recognition scheme, hiring had become more challenging as the talent pool had become shallower. 

A joint venture between Bank of East Asia (Hong Kong) and Union Investment Management, BEA Union had $6.7 billion in AUM as of September 30 last year, with 15 funds domiciled in Hong Kong.

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