Taiwanese institution SinoPac Holdings has hired former Oppenheimer Investments Asia chief Steve Bernstein to head a new portfolio management support platform based out of Hong Kong.
Pending final approvals, Bernstein is set to start as head of the new subsidiary – SinoPac Solutions and Services –on December 1, and he will be hiring.
He tells AsianInvestor that the business will look to provide front-to-back fund administration services to SinoPac businesses internally including compliance, accounting and capital-raising; and externally to small and mid-size portfolio management firms including hedge funds, private equity funds, family offices, asset managers and wealth managers.
The opportunity Bernstein sees is in the majority of Asia funds that are less than $100 million in size in terms of assets under custody or administration. “A lot of them are not being serviced as they should be,” he notes, “and they are spending a lot of their time on four or five providers.
“So we talked about consolidating these services into one offering and being able to service the smaller institutions, and that is what we will be doing on the SinoPac platform.”
Bernstein is working as a consultant with SinoPac and says he has been on this project for the past few months. He quit Oppenheimer in December last year after two years with the firm, having been brought in there to expand the regional business.
In the past year he has been working independently for his own advisory company in Hong Kong called Inflection Point, taking on mandates from hedge funds and asset managers.
He has had previous experience working with SinoPac management, having set up a strategic alliance with Oppenheimer when he was CEO there.
“I knew the senior management well already and I liked working with them,” he says. “When I had this idea I approached them and they were very supportive of it.
“A lot of smaller fund houses in Asia are getting squeezed a bit, with more regulation and higher fees, and they have problems raising money. We think we can help them in a number of areas.”
He estimates the team will be 10-strong in the first year, partly by drafting in internal capabilities that exist within SinoPac. He will look to hire largely on the fund accounting side, potentially targeting people he has previously worked with.
SinoPac Financial Holdings has more than NT$1 trillion ($34 billion) in assets. It started trading on the Taiwan Stock Exchange on May 9, 2002, with 30% of its shares now held by foreign institutional investors.
It has an overseas presence in Hong Kong, Macau, Beijing, Shanghai, Vietnam, Los Angeles and London. Its subsidiaries offer banking, securities, investment trust, leasing and venture capital services.