Christof Kutscher leaves UBS Global Asset Management

The long-serving CEO of UBS Global AM’s Asia-Pacific business is stepping down after leading the firm to a top-tier position in the region.
Christof Kutscher leaves UBS Global Asset Management

Christof Kutscher, one of the longest-serving CEOs in Asia’s asset management industry, has tendered his resignation at UBS Global Asset Management.

The decision was announced internally today by John Fraser, London-based chairman and CEO of the firm.

Kutscher, who is based in Hong Kong, joined the firm in 1995 and was appointed head of Asia-Pacific in 2004.

Fraser says that since then the asset management operation has more than doubled in size as a proportion of UBS’s global business.

According to AsianInvestor magazine, in 2011 the firm enjoyed 9.23% year-on-year growth in assets sourced from clients based in Asia-Pacific. As of September 31, it manages $99.4 billion of regional client money, making it the 17th largest such manager.

Kutscher says the firm uses AI's survey as a benchmark of its performance. He notes that at end 2011, UBS had become the sixth largest international firm managing APAC assets, up from 30th four years ago. "All of that is from organic growth," he notes.

He adds that the firm now sources 20% of its global AUM from Asia-Pacific, versus the international industry average of 10%, as recorded by AsianInvestor. He guesses that, looking at the firms ahead of UBS on the AI ranking, his firm is globally number three in terms of revenue generation in Asia-Pacific. (See AsianInvestor's December 2011 edition for the full rankings and analysis.)

When he was named CEO for the region, he was serving as Japan country head in Tokyo. He inherited a franchise with an institutional business in Japan and Australia, a wholesale business in Australia, and a sovereign business in Asia ex-Japan. There was no wholesale presence in Japan, and virtually nothing in China or Korea.

Today the firm is one of the biggest foreign wholesale providers in Japan, and it has a joint venture in China that allows it to manufacture real estate and infrastructure products onshore. It also set up a JV in Korea with Hana Bank, as well as introduced fund administration for Asian hedge funds.

UBS Wealth Management used to be a third or more of the asset management's regional business. But by growing third-party wholesale business, the affiliated private bank now accounts for 9% of regional AUM and 11% of regional revenues.

Scott Keller, who has in the past run the asset management’s client relationship with UBS Private Wealth, has been appointed acting head of Asia-Pacific, effective April 2.

“This acting appointment will allow me to consider a broad range of candidates – including Scott – for the permanent position,” says Fraser.

Kutscher says most of the gaps in the business have been filled, but his successor will face several new challenges. With regard to the AsianInvestor rankings, UBS aspires to be top tier in key markets not just among international houses, but local giants as well.

It also needs to do a better job of selling its global capabilities in real estate and funds of hedge funds to Asian clients.

Thirdly there are specific client segments where UBS believes it should be bigger, including Japanese pension funds and wholesalers in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.

But after 16 years, Kutscher says he is leaving on a happy note. He officially steps down at the end of this month but will continue to advise the firm informally. He holds a Hong Kong permanent residence card and intends to remain in the city, and is now planning a number of holidays overseas. "I am not looking for a job," he says.

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