BlueBay Asset Management, a UK-based fixed income house, has closed its office in Hong Kong but is retaining staff in the city, AsianInvestor has learned.

Both Ciaran McAssey, head of sales for Asia (ex-Japan) and Australia, and Lisa Stuart, Asia client director, are now working out of the Hong Kong office of BlueBay's parent company, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), in the Cheung Kong Center.

BlueBay plans to relocate McAssey to Australia in the coming months, most likely to RBC's Melbourne office, said Jayne Fieldhouse, a spokeswoman for the fund house. 

Meanwhile, Vanis Chung, associate sales director, has left BlueBay, and AsianInvestor could not ascertain her next destination.

The changes were finalised in December, almost five years after the office was set up.

Fieldhouse said the move was a strategic one to align the business in Hong Kong with that in the US, where RBC Global Asset Management also acts as BlueBay's distributor.

Ciaran McAssey

The moves followed substantial client redemptions in recent years. BlueBay's assets under management stood at $50.2 billion as of end-2016, down from $57.3 billion at end-2015 and $62.9 billion at end-2014.

Fieldhouse noted that the decline in AUM in 2014 was also hit by the closure of the $1.4 billion BlueBay Macro Fund in November of that year.

The company's office in Tokyo has not been affected by the changes in Hong Kong, she said.

Tough environment

BlueBay joins a growing list of asset and wealth managers to have made cutbacks in Asia amid an increasingly tough environment for the investment industry. Swiss firms Edmond de Rothschild and Syz Asset Management both shut their Hong Kong operations late last year.

There is also a rising trend for consolidation in the asset and wealth management industry, as firms look to build scale and achieve greater cost efficiency. Recent examples include the mergers between Aberdeen and Standard Life and between Henderson Global Investors and Janus Capital.

McAssey joined BlueBay in February 2012, before which he was head of institutional sales at Australian Unity, a healthcare and financial services provider in Melbourne. He has also worked at other asset managers, including Bennelong Funds Management and Ausbil Dexia, as well as at insurance firm ING.

Stuart has been client director at BlueBay in Hong Kong since October 2015, before which she was director of sales for the UK and Ireland, after joining the firm in October 2013, according to her LinkedIn page.

Chung had been with BlueBay since June 2013, before which she had worked for Fidelity, Goldman Sachs and CLSA, says her LinkedIn page.