Even fund houses with huge affiliated private banks benefit from having other channels for selling their products.

Hence Credit Suisse Asset Management (CSAM) has hired a dedicated head of third-party distribution for Asia ex-Japan in Hong Kong. Christina Kautzky joined the firm in early February, reporting to Michael Levin, Asia-Pacific head of CSAM. 

Her most recent employer was US fund house BlackRock, where she worked as Asia head of family offices and funds of funds until May last year.

Kautzky is now responsible for building CSAM’s relationships with third-party private banks in the region (beyond Credit Suisse Private Bank) and identifying opportunities to collaborate to deliver investment products and solutions to investors, said a spokeswoman for the firm.

Christina Kautzky

Levin told AsianInvestor by email: “While we’ve had third-party distribution coverage before, we haven’t had a formal head like Christina.” The executive previously focused on this area has moved on, he added, without identifying the individual.

CSAM is building strategic relationships with some of the larger wealth management platforms, said Levin, and is less focused on robo-advisers or purely digital channels.

Consolidation impact

Asked how the consolidation trend in the wealth industry was affecting CSAM, Levin said: “Increased consolidation translates into healthy competition. There will be fewer channels going forward, but they will have greater scale.” 

Moreover, moves by distributors to reduce the number of fund providers they use benefit leading players like CSAM, he added.

Yet there is no shortage of asset managers with a strong presence in Asia these days. And downward pressure on fees and the growth of passive investment is increasingly resulting in cutbacks in the region.

Recent examples of firms to have closed their Hong Kong offices since late 2016 are BlueBay Asset Management, Edmond de Rothschild and Syz Asset Management. And various fund houses have reduced their Asia headcounts in recent months. 

However, Levin said CSAM is building its investment capabilities in Hong Kong to add to those in its regional hub in Singapore. It is working on provide more access to onshore fixed income and equities in China in collaboration with its joint-venture partner, ICBC Credit Suisse.

Kautzky’s background

Kautzky had been with BlackRock from April 2011 to May 2016, most recently as Asia head of family offices and fund of funds in Hong Kong and before that as a product specialist in the alternative investment strategy group.

In the 10 months since she left BlackRock she has worked as an independent consultant in the asset management space, according to her LinkedIn page.

From 2005 to 2011, Kautzky founded and ran a financial communications company, Communicate Financial, which serviced small funds and asset managers in Asia.