Swiss bank Credit Suisse has named Michael Levin to run its asset management business in Asia Pacific day-to-day in a move that highlights the firm’s increased focus on the segment.
Levin, who joined the firm in 2011, will be responsible for regional business strategy for asset management in the region, including expanding local distribution as well as its product and platform build-out.
He is also tasked with driving business development via strategic partnerships, alliances and other inorganic opportunities.
Levin will be based in Hong Kong, and his new responsibilities will be in addition to his current role as head of asset management products for non-Japan Asia.
He will report functionally to Charlie Shaffer, global head of distribution, and locally to Neil Harvey, vice-chairman of asset management for Asia Pacific and CEO for Hong Kong and Greater China.
Harvey ran the firm’s Asia Pacific and emerging markets asset management units from 2010 to the end of 2012, when he was appointed to vice-chairman of the asset management business in Asia Pacific, as reported.
At that time the unit cut its headcount and became more streamlined, with Harvey continuing to oversee the business although not on a full-time basis and additionally becoming co-CEO of Greater China and CEO for Hong Kong. Following the exit of co-CEO Zhang Liping to Blackstone this July, Harvey became sole CEO of Greater China.
He notes that asset management has become more of a focus for the firm since. “Asia is important and asset management is important and we need to have someone running it full time,” he stated. “I will continue to stay involved in terms of expanding the business in Asia Pacific.”
This October Credit Suisse announced a streamlined structure with three geographic divisions: Swiss universal bank, Asia Pacific and international wealth management (which includes its global asset management business).
The bank said it was seeking to accelerate its growth in Asia Pacific by allocating more capital to serve wealthy entrepreneurs in the region via a dedicated and integrated Asia-Pacific division. That division is led by Helman Sitohang.
The bank has an aggressive growth target to more than double pre-tax income in Asia Pacific to SFr2.1 billion ($2.1 billion) by the end of 2018.
Asked about targets for Levin and the asset management division, Harvey declined to spell out specifics but pointed to Greater China as a focus and said Levin would have a hiring mandate.
Credit Suisse has a joint venture with ICBC in China. ICBC Credit Suisse Asset Management is the second largest asset manager in China with Rmb791 billion ($562 billion) in AUM as at end-September.
Excluding its segregated account subsidiary and institutional business it is the third largest mutual fund manger after Tianhong and China Asset Management with Rmb391 billion.
“We have ambitious goals for our asset management business in Asia Pacific and those will now be [Levin’s] goals,” Harvey said. “We will certainly look to continue to grow our JV with ICBC where we can add value.
“We are also planning to grow our private banking business and we need asset management to provide support. We have grown our Asian fixed income business based out of Singapore working in partnership with our private bank and we will look to do more.”
Harvey added that Credit Suisse had been seeing demand for its global managers from Asian investors and said the bank planned to do more.
Credit Suisse’s private bank continues to be run by Francesco de Ferrari, whom AsianInvestor interviewed in 2013. Ferrari has also been handed the additional responsibility of CEO for Southeast Asia, overseeing key client business and strategic partnerhips in each market.