Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA), a Texas-based asset manager, has brought in Abhi Shroff from bond house Pimco to oversee institutional coverage for Asia ex-Japan, AsianInvestor can reveal.

Shroff will start this month in the Singapore-based role, Asia chief executive Chen Peng told AsianInvestor, decling to give a precise date or comment on whether further hires were planned.

Shroff will report to Chen and to Carlo Venes, the previous Asia institutional head. Venes was promoted in January to replace Steve Clark as head of global institutional services and has relocated to DFA’s headquarters in Austin. 

Abhi Shroff

Shroff was until the end of May the head of south Asia at Pimco in SIngapore. He had spent nearly three years at the California-based manager, which plans to replace him. Before that, he worked at research house Greenwich Associates for nearly nine years, most recently as managing director for Asia Pacific.

Venes had joined DFA in late 2011, not long before it opened a Singapore office in 2012 to add to branches in Australia and Japan.

DFA, which has around 30 staff in Asia (excluding Australia and Japan), has also seen other senior personnel changes in recent months.

Last month Greg Folan left to join rival US quant house AQR Capital’s sales team in Hong Kong. He had been Singapore-based regional director of the global client group at DFA and worked at firm for 13 years, according to his LinkedIn profile. Chen declined to comment on Folan's departure.

In the US, Jed Fogdall, previously co-head of global portfolio management, became sole head of global portfolio management and chair of the investment committee in late February. 

Carlo Venes

The previous chair and co-head, Joseph Chi, has stepped down to spend more time with his family, according to a DFA statement. He plans to stay on as an ex officio member of the investment committee and helping to train and mentor future leaders.

SWIFT GROWTH

The changes come amid rapid expansion for DFA in recent years, during what has been a difficult period for the investment industry.

Its assets under management (AUM) stood at $576 billion as of March 31 this year, up from $460 billion as of end-2016 and having more than doubled since 2012. Indeed, DFA was the second fastest growing fund house globally from 2011 to 2016, posting 17% in annualised AUM expansion over that time, according to consultancy Willis Towers Watson.

Chen said inflows had come from both fund commitments and mandates and were broad-based across various strategies.

DFA does not break out how much clients contribute to the AUM total by region.

The asset manager had initially focused on servicing institutional clients in Asia, but in early 2016 embarked on a push to build an intermediaries business in the region, registering a range of funds for sale in Singapore.

DFA is not alone in appointing a new institutional head recently. Eastspring Investments and State Street Global Advisors have done the same, the latter for China and the former for Asia and the US.

This story has been updated to show that Abhi Shroff will report to both Chen Peng and Carlo Venes.