US-based BNY Mellon has appointed its first employee to cover intermediary distribution in Asia-Pacific in the form of Navin Suri from ING Investment Management.

Suri started in the newly created position as Asia-Pacific head of intermediary distribution last week based in Hong Kong and he comes in with a hiring mandate.

“He will be growing the team as the business grows,” a firm spokesperson tells AsianInvestor. “[Future hires] could be a combination of external hires or internal transfers.”

BNY Mellon’s business in the region is predominantly institutional. It does have an established intermediary business in both the US and Europe, so will likely use that as its template.

Suri is now responsible for developing and managing the build-out of its Asia-Pacific intermediary sales strategy, distribution channel network and relationships.

The bank notes his chief focus will be establishing new partnerships with consumer banks, private banks and family offices, insurance and pension providers, securities companies and independent financial advisers, among other intermediaries.

Suri reports to Alan Harden, chief executive of BNY Mellon’s Asia-Pacific investment management business and a former colleague from ING IM, and to PeterPaul Pardi, BNY Mellon’s head of global distribution, based in London.

In a statement, Harden points to the fact that Asia has surpassed the US and Europe in terms of the number of millionaires, with the gap forecast to widen. As a result he stresses the importance of BNY Mellon gaining traction in distribution and client servicing in the wholesale market.

Asked how BNY Mellon would hope to differentiate itself in this arena, the spokesperson responds: “It is too early to comment on this. [Suri’s] role will be to determine the best possible strategy and explore what products and services best meet the needs of the intermediary market.”

In the statement, Pardi adds: “While we have been successful with institutional clients throughout the region and intermediaries in Japan, BNY Mellon has in the past been under-represented in the intermediary and wholesale space across the region.

“[Suri’s] primary goal will, therefore, be to explore how we can best service this exciting space in a differentiated and compelling way.”

Neither Harden, Pardi nor any senior management at BNY Mellon were available for interview at press time.

But speaking to AsianInvestor in August, Harden said he was a quarter of the way through an aggressive two-year expansion plan and expected to unveil four senior hires before the year’s end.

In particular he specified that he was looking for distribution personnel and that BNY Mellon wanted to build out its intermediary business in the region, but that this would take a long time.

Prior to his new role, Suri was managing director and chief executive of ING Investment Management’s India business. He worked at the firm for four years after joining in 2008, with his path having crossed with Harden, who was Asia-Pacific CEO at ING IM until August 2010.

Suri also spent two years as retail sales and distribution head for Asia-Pacific at Citibank, and sales and distribution head for the Asia-Pacific investments business at the same firm.

A spokesperson for ING IM based in Hong Kong confirmed that Suri left the firm in July and that it had appointed Nityanand Prabhu as acting CEO of its India business.

BNY Mellon has $1.3 trillion in assets under management globally, of which Asia-Pacific accounts for around $85 billion, or 6.5%.