Deutsche Bank has appointed Robert Perks as its head of Asia (including Japan) prime brokerage. Based in Hong Kong, Perks' responsibilities include covering client servicing, product development and integration with sales and other product areas. He reports directly to international prime brokerage heads Todd Johnson and Julia Kostic, and regionally to Asian head of prime services, Greg McCafferty.
Perks replaces Hannah Goodwin who, taking two team members with her, left Deutsche a few months ago to join rival Citibank, where she will spearhead its expansion into the Asia ex-Japan prime brokerage space. Goodwin was five-year veteran of Deutsche's PB team and one of the key members involved in building the firm's Asian franchise. As such many viewed her departure as a significant loss to Deutsche's prime brokerage team.
However, her new replacement is no stranger to Deutsche's prime brokerage practice or the mechanics of the business in Asia. For the last four years, Perks has been head of new product development for Deutsche's global prime brokerage business, and his responsibilities have included global integration of the firm's platform, as well as tailoring products to suit specific clients. During that period Perks says he was closely involved in the building of the Asian platform.
He emphasizes that the bank is committed to growing its prime brokerage business in Asia - increasingly an area of focus for global prime brokerage clients as they set up operations in the region. Indeed, in recent months Deutsche has been growing its regional prime brokerage team significantly, strategically hiring locally experienced professionals as well as transferring experienced team members from its global team out to Asia to fill in any gaps and create a fully comprehensive offering.
According to Perks, Deutsche's Asia including Japan team stands at 17 members strong, a number which counts all client-facing personnel, and risk and swap middle office members.
In the last six months, key external hires have included Connie Leung and Ivy Liew. Leung, who takes on the role of COO was previously COO of Citic Asset Management, prior to which she spent a decade in the region working on the operations side for hedge funds.
Says Perks; "Having Connie on board is a major acquisition for our team. Her local experience and familiarity makes her skills very complimentary to my own, as she can handle day-to-day operations, allowing me the ability to play a strategic role and spend time on client relationships."
Ivy Liew joins Deutsche from competitor Morgan Stanley, and brings to the team her experience in listed derivatives products.
Deutsche has also been busy filling in the gaps in its prime brokerage team, importing talent from its global operations. One area where Deutsche had fallen behind its regional peers is capital introduction, as the firm historically had no dedicated professionals on the ground in the region. Perks says this is being a addressed by the transfer of Ferrell Daste, an experienced member of Deutsche's west-coast US capital introduction team to Asia.
On the transition management side, the departure of Jackie Fan to Citi, has prompted another experienced Deutsche old hand, Chris Day to transfer from London and fill this position.
The firm have also transferred Scott Basili from Sydney to manage swaps and middle office for the team.
Perks adds that key personnel on the Deutsche team are also being backed up by additional staff to give them more leverage. On the sales side, head of Asian sales Ryan Bacher, has three more on the sales team to ramp up the group's sales efforts, two based in Hong Kong and one in Tokyo. Risk manager Alex Lee also has an additional team member to support his efforts.
"Our strategy remains the same. We're focused heavily on client relationships and helping our accounts get as much access to the firm as possible," explains Perks.
The building up of Deutsche's Asian PB team is happening in the context of a series of departures at the management level in Deutsche's PB team globally. Citibank's pilfering of Deutsche's talent has not been limited to Goodwin's hire in Asia.
Recently, Citi wooed Nick Roe, Deutsche's global head of prime services, who resigned to head up Citi's European prime brokerage and equity finance drive. Roe had only taken up the global position a few months earlier when he replaced Jim Rowen who left to join US hedge fund, SAC Capital.
The new global head of prime brokerage is Jonathon Hitchon, who had held the same title as a co-head a few years earlier before transferring to DB Advisors.
In response to market talk that senior level departures from Deutsche have been a result of the firm's cost cutting and unwillingness to invest in technology, Perks says, "I've no complaints. I continue to be able to offer my clients cutting edge technology and new functionalities all the time."