CreditEase, China’s biggest peer-to-peer lending firm, has been busy building out a team to strengthen its investment and wealth management businesses.
Danny Howell, former Asia head of wealth management at consultancy Towers Watson, left that role to become head of offshore wealth management at CreditEase. He started in the new post last month to run the Hong Kong office and source more offshore products for the Hong Kong platform.
Towers Watson said Howell won’t be directly replaced and that his client relationships are being managed by other team members.
Howell said his role is to source alternative and other investment opportunities for CreditEase’s large and fast-growing onshore client base. “We’re doing this through collaboration with asset managers, through developing our own funds, and through equity participation and seed funding. I’ve been very impressed with the alternatives capabilities the firm has built onshore already.”
Dennis Cong is also understood to have joined in recent weeks to focus on private equity and venture capital deals. He was previously Deutsche Bank’s chief representative in Beijing, where he worked on corporate finance and investment banking in the technology, media and telecoms sector. He also has substantial PE and VC experience from his work with previous firms.
Deutsche declined to comment by press time on whether he had been or will be replaced.
“We’ve attracted top-quality people, who like the entrepreneurial feel of the business,” said Howell, adding that the firm is still looking for experienced individuals in certain areas for the offshore business.
The firm started working on building the offshore wealth management business in Hong Kong in 2012, and obtained its type 4 (advisory) and 9 (asset management) licences in the city in November last year.
CreditEase has substantial backing. In mid-2012, Morgan Stanley’s Asian private equity arm invested in the company, following the lead of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a Silicon Valley VC firm. The firm is expected to IPO at some point in the coming few years, said Howell, and is attracting a lot of attention in China and globally.
Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Beijing, CreditEase offers wealth management, credit management, microfinance investment and microcredit loan origination and servicing. Its Chinese service network covers over 100 cities and 20 rural locations. It has a workforce of 35,000, including a salesforce of 6,000.
The company in 2006 launched the first peer-to-peer microcredit platform in China, linking urban lenders to people with microcredit needs, such as urban micro-entrepreneurs, salary workers, vocation school students and the rural poor.