US bank Citi has promoted Cheeping Yap to head of fund services for Asia in an internal reorganisation that sees Australia split under a separate business head, Enzo Cotroneo, AsianInvestor can reveal.
Yap, who started in his new role on February 1, has a regional mandate that covers alternative investments, long-only mutual funds, transfer agency and fiduciary services.
He replaces Matt Brown, who is taking on a senior role within securities and fund services (SFS) in Emea, reporting to London-based Andrew Gelb.
In addition, Euan Mcleod joins Citi in Hong Kong today as regional head of transfer agency from JP Morgan, where he was executive director of transfer agency product. He comes in to replace Matt Newnham, who relocates to Citi Luxembourg.
Mcleod is not the only JP Morgan alumnus to join Citi's SFS team. Cotroneo came from JP Morgan in mid-2011 and head of custody sales David Edwards joined from the same firm in September 2010.
The move to split out and place a greater focus on Australia is the result of growth both in Citi’s own SFS business there but also in the country’s superannuation funds industry, says David Russell, Asia-Pacific head of SFS. Citi’s SFS business in Australia is headed by Martin Carpenter, while Cotroneo runs its Australian fund services unit and reports to Carpenter.
Yap, who was head of the SFS business for Hong Kong, has been succeeded by Cindy Chen, most recently head of market advocacy and product management for direct custody and clearing in Hong Kong.
Yap is now responsible for a regional SFS team of 14, and the bank is looking to add resources. Most notably it plans to create two regional head roles for exchange-traded fund (ETF) product and fiduciary services and have new hires in place before the end of this year.
“ETFs are something we are aggressively building,” confirms Yap, noting that Citi started ETF services 18 months ago and now has eight ETF clients across the region. The bank integrated these services into a formalised platform last year.
He points to excitement over the expected launch of a renminbi-denominated ETF product for qualified foreign institutional investors out of Hong Kong that tracks China’s A-share market. “We are working with a number of clients on that,” he says.
With respect to the search for a regional head of fiduciary services, Yap adds: “We have fiduciary heads in key countries including Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore, but we wanted to create a regional role to help build their services across the Asia franchise, and also to assist the different country teams to be consistent.”
Another area Citi is focused on is deepening its offerings across Asia. It aims to build out its fund services platform in Korea, China and Australia this year, and Taiwan next year.
“Increasingly a lot of global houses are going deeper to tap into local segments beyond the hubs of Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia, they are going into Thailand, Malaysia, Korea and China,” he says.
While he notes that Citi offers fund services in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia, he suggests it is a little underpenetrated in North Asia and says this will be a key focus this year.
Yap also stresses that Citi is eager to identify future Asian champions, noting that four years ago its SFS business served four Chinese clients out of Hong Kong, compared with 28 today.
In his new role, Yap reports directly to Russell and to Sanjiv Sawhney, global head of fund services. Yap joined Citi in Hong Kong in late 2006 as head of SFS for China, based in Shanghai, and in July 2009 became Hong Kong head of SFS.
Citi’s global SFS business has $12.5 trillion of assets under custody.