BlackRock has integrated its institutional, retail and wealth client teams in Asia and named a new head of the combined division this month, AsianInvestor can reveal. As part of this reorganisation, the $6.3 trillion fund house has appointed a regional chief to oversee digital distribution, reflecting its fast-rising technology focus. 

Andrew Landman has been promoted from Asia-Pacific head of institutional to regional head of the combined client businesses, all of which now report directly to him. 

Damien Mooney, formerly head of the retail and wealth team, has taken on the newly created role of Asia-Pacific head of digital wealth. He had been the BlackRock’s regional lead for this area as part of his previous duties, but the official appointment underscores the firm’s intent in this space.

Asked why BlackRock had integrated the three client teams, spokeswoman Rowena Kwok told AsianInvestor by email: “We are organising ourselves to ensure we can continue to best serve and engage clients according to their evolving needs—depending on their industry sector the solutions they seek and their geographic presence.

“Our new unified client business model will ensure we can deliver the entire firm to clients more effectively and support them with country-specific knowledge experience, as well as significant sector expertise.”

Digital drive

Meanwhile, Mooney is now responsible for leading BlackRock's digital strategy in Asia Pacific, including identifying tech-oriented distribution partnerships for its funds, ETFs and models, and delivering more targeted digital content and tools to retail and wealth distribution partners, according to his LinkedIn page.

Commenting on the new role, Kwok said by email: “Asia Pacific is at the forefront of financial technology and the digitisation of wealth and asset management.

“Many of our retail and wealth clients are early adopters of fintech advances, which have been transforming their businesses,” she added. “New platforms for investing are also emerging in digital payments and robo-advisory."

BlackRock expects such platforms to become “meaningful distribution channels” for investment products and services among retail and wealth clients in the near term, said Kwok.

She noted that Mooney’s experience in both distribution and marketing positions made him ideally suited to the new role.

The Chinese market is a clear indicator of the huge potential of electronic distribution. Chinese e-commerce giant Tencent won a licence this month to sell mutual funds directly via its WeChat social network, which has nearly 1 billion users. And rival fintech Ant Financial, owned by Alibaba, already has a large head start in this space.

A Hong Kong-based recruiter told AsianInvestor: “If you can get it [digital distribution] right, it will be massive. This is the way the world is going; more investors buying products directly.”

Asset managers clearly want a piece of the action, and BlackRock is making a bold statement of intent.