Global custodian Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH) has opened its third Asian office, this one in Beijing.
BBH will use the new office to better serve its existing clients. Currently the firm services seven Chinese financial institution clients, their respective qualified domestic institutional investor (QDII) funds and has 12 additional QDII funds in the pipeline for regulatory approval. The office will also cater to BBH's global asset management and local institutional investor clients in the country.
"We have a strong pipeline in China resulting from our relationships with seven leading domestic commercial banks in support of their QDII business," says William Rosensweig, BBH managing director and head of Asia strategy.
According to Rosensweig, the Beijing office has been in planning for some time with regulatory approvals taking place over the last year. "The opening is consistent with our overall expansion strategy as the firm puts more focus on Asia and China," he says.
With Beijing, BBH has three offices in Asia including Hong Kong and Tokyo.
Asked why BBH has opened an office on the mainland now, Rosensweig says the firm was driven by "the laws of large numbers" -- referring to the country's strong economic growth, large population and potential funds industry. "These are really hard to ignore."
LJ Jia, senior vice-president and BBH country manager for China, will run the new office. He is charged with expanding the firm's profile in the country and working to facilitate and improve product delivery to local clients. Jia joined BBH in 2006 prior to which he worked with American Express in China.
While the new office will focus on existing client relationships, Rosensweig acknowledges that a secondary goal is to expand the global custodian's customer base. "The best way to attract new business is to serve existing business well," he says.
Currently, BBH's Asia-Pacific business provides global custody services to financial institutions, insurance companies and pension funds in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. After Beijing, the firm does not have any immediate plans for additional offices in the region.
"For now we feel fairly well positioned to serve clients in Asia with offices in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Beijing," says Rosensweig. He explains how BBH has always grown "based on client needs", citing its network of only four offices in Europe -- Dublin, London, Luxembourg and Switzerland -- despite the region accounting for significantly more assets under custody than Asia.
At the end of June, the global custodian had approximately $1.8 trillion in assets under custody globally. As a partnership, BBH does not release financial results.