Deutsche Asset Management has hired ex-Citigrouper Sharon Cheng for a newly created role as head of retail sales for Asia ex-Japan. Cheng, based in Hong Kong, is meant to make DeAM a household name.

Her first task will be to hire a team of sales people to support the launch of new products.

"This is not a new strategy," says Singapore-based Choy Peng-wah, CEO of DeAM Asia. "In the past when working with distributors, we've been low key. We want to diversify across retail, and hiring Sharon puts a focus on telling people we're active players." DeAM is well known among private bankers but its name isn't seen at the street level, and now the firm wants to raise its profile.

He says the push into retail gathered steam with last year's deal with Singapore's Keppel Insurance, in which DeAM agreed to manage the client's entire portfolio as well as cooperate on product development for Keppel's unit-linked business.

"The Keppel deal gave us a platform into the Singapore unit-linked market, and let us tap into a sizeable and sticky book of business," Choy says. Since then, DeAM has been talking with commercial banks and other distributors across the region. Cheng will take the lead, including sharing ideas with distributors about new investment product ideas, including structured products, hedge funds and real-estate investment trusts. "Some of these will be white labelled and others will display our brand," he adds.

Cheng has over 10 years of experience in investments and financial services, most recently as director of sales and distribution at Citigroup Asset Management. She also served for five years at Standard Chartered Bank, developing its investment services.

Choy says the firm is preparing a series of new product launches in markets such as Hong Kong and Korea, as well as India and Taiwan. DeAM manages Eur7 billion of institutional and retail client funds from Asia.