Fixed income specialist Western Asset’s fund management business in Asia is set for a change of leadership in May.
Long-standing regional head Henry Hamrock will be returning to the US after 22 years in Asia. His replacement Michael Dale, currently head of Western’s Australia business and based in Melbourne, is moving to Singapore to oversee the Asia-Pacific client service and sales teams.
AsianInvestor understands this is an expanded role; Hamrock was head of Asia client service and marketing, and head of operations for Asia, while Dale’s new role covers the broader Asia-Pacific region. As such, Dale will retain responsibility for Australia and New Zealand.
There are no current plans to appoint a successor in the Melbourne office, Dale told AsianInvestor.
On May 1, Hamrock relocates to the group headquarters in Pasadena, California to assume the role of head of US public/multi-employer relationships. The role has become available following the retirement of Veronica Amici, after a 25-year career at Western.
Dale and Hamrock will work together in Singapore during a one month transition period beginning April 1.
Hamrock told AsianInvestor that Western is embarking on a new expansion phase in Asia. Assets serviced in Asia, excluding Australia and Japan, have grown 60% to over $20 billion during the seven years since he became responsible for the region.
In Australia, Dale has had similar success, particularly with insurance sector clients. Assets serviced on behalf of Australia and New Zealand-based clients increased by 27% in dollar terms in 2018.
Overall, the firm had around $22.7 billion under management in Asian-Pacific fixed income assets as at 31 December 2018, of which over half is insurance company assets, said Dale.
Pension funds are also a target. “The need for improved pension systems across the region has got to be a big opportunity for asset managers offering retirement and longevity investment options,” Dale told AsianInvestor.
There will be no major change in staff numbers at this stage, Dale said, until he has had had time to assess what the key staffing needs are. The firm currently has 23 staff in Singapore and 18 in Australia. Separately and not under the Asia remit, Western has four investment professionals located in Japan.
Dale has been with Western for four years and was previously an account manager at Pimco in Sydney. He comes from a fund management treasury services background, having originally worked for Suncorp Metway for five years with a specialisation in fixed income.