BlackRock has hired Lavin Mok from Edmond de Rothschild Asset Management (EdR AM) in a new role as head of retail sales for Hong Kong and Singapore.

Mok joined the world’s largest asset manager as a managing director last month, having only been hired as head of Asia sales by EdR AM in March last year.

Asked why his tenure at EdR AM had been so brief, Mok replies: “When the opportunity comes from BlackRock, you cannot say no.”

He had been recruited by EdR AM to focus on retail distribution. In mid-November, EdR AM hired Melissa Lee as head of institutional sales, and she confirmed in an interview that she would be taking on some of Mok’s responsibilities, including distribution network.

At the time she said EdR AM was still assessing whether to replace Mok, and AsianInvestor understands there have been no changes to the firm’s sales team in the interim.

Although Mok’s job title at EdR AM indicated a wider regional responsibility, he stresses that BlackRock still has a lot of room to grow in Asia.

“It is not fair to compare jobs,” he adds. “Different companies have different positions. BlackRock is a very good opportunity for me. It does not matter because of what happened in the past. The reason I joined BlackRock is just because of BlackRock.”

A BlackRock spokeswoman adds that Mok’s role is a new one for the firm, which has never had a dedicated leader for Hong Kong and Singapore retail sales. “This is a step up for us running retail sales in the region,” she says. “We’ve had vice-presidents and directors, but not an MD.”

Mok says he has seven to eight sales and sales support staff in Hong Kong, including himself and a VP due on board next month, and five in Singapore, including an associate also joining in February. Overall BlackRock has 35 sales people servicing the Asia ex-Japan retail business.

Asked about priorities, Mok notes that BlackRock is striving to provide more Asia-themed products to satisfy growing demand, for the most part out of Hong Kong. “We definitely hope to have something in the next few months,” he says. “The first half of 2011 is our target, although it depends on progress.”

Mok reports to Taiwan-based Chang Lin-yun, head of BlackRock’s retail business for Asia ex-Japan.

BlackRock had $3.45 trillion in assets under management globally as at the end of last year. It is the third largest fund manager in Asia-Pacific with $391 billion in assets sourced from the region, by AsianInvestor numbers.