Eaton Vance Management is setting up an onshore operation in Japan as part of the US fund house's plans to expand its presence in Asia. The first step in this process was the recent hire of its first trader in Singapore, with other investment hires to come in the region.

Eric Stein, co-director of global income, told AsianInvestor: "We have established an entity that is in the process of branching into Japan and expect that the branch will be effective on November 1." The operation will initially service existing clients in Japan and elsewhere in Asia, he added. 

Eaton Vance plans to expand its Japanese presence over the next few years with the addition of several business development professionals, noted Stein. The firm currently has one employee in Tokyo, who provides research services. 

Meanwhile, Shivramakrishnan (Shiva) Iyer joined from Goldman Sachs in August as senior global income trader, boosting the headcount to four in the Singapore office, which opened in 2012. The other staff cover distribution and report to Rob White, president of Asia.

Stein said: “From the fixed income team’s perspective, I’d like to see a few more people in Asia, and I expect our credit- and equity-focused teams would also be looking to have people in that office.”

Global push

“The history of our investment team is we have had people trading 24 hours from the Boston [head] office,” Stein noted. “We know that’s unsustainable because most people like to sleep normal hours. That’s why we’ve started to make a push from the broader Eaton Vance perspective into the global marketplace.”

Iyer (pictured left), a trader at Eaton Vance in Boston from July 2012 to January 2015, rejoined the firm from Goldman in Singapore, where he had focused on foreign exchange and fixed income sales and trading. He has also held positions at Pimco, SKS Microfinance and Infosys Technologies.

Eaton Vance’s investment activity in Asia includes managing floating-rate bank loan strategies for institutional clients, with Japan a key market. Stein’s group runs several strategies, with the flagship being its global macro vehicle.

Asia fixed-income focus

“We invest in bonds, currencies, sovereign debt and some equity indices around the world,” he said. “Shiva’s going to be responsible for trading those markets … keeping his ear to the ground on what people are talking about in Singapore among the buy-side and sell-side communities, and helping us find investment ideas in the Asian fixed income markets."

Stein expressed optimism for Asian fixed income investments in late 2016 and early 2017: “It’s a challenge with very low, zero to negative rates in most of the developed world, but I think there are places we like such as India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. There are still places to find yield and we’ve seen a rally in recent weeks that we expect to continue.”

Eaton Vance has $334 billion in assets as of July 31. Outside North America and Singapore, it has offices in London and Australia. The firm has expanded its investment team to 21 people in London over the past two years, noted Stein.

That team is split fairly equally between fixed income and equity managers, he said. The firm will add another person there in November, but he would not comment further.