Yasuchika Asaoka, former executive director for investment management at Japan's Y7.8 trillion ($72 billion) Pension Fund Association, has joined Barclays Global Investors Japan as president. Asaoka had resigned from the PFA in November.

The PFA is among the most influential government pension funds in Japan, seen as a benchmark by the corporate pensions market, with a mandate to oversee corporate employer benefit funds for short-term employees and terminated plans. Tomomi Yano remains the PFA's executive director.

The resignation of Asaoka prompted BGI to contact him, says Kazuhisa Okamoto, the former president whom Asaoka has replaced. Okamoto had been president and CEO of the company for 13 years.

"The company started out with nothing when I joined," Okamoto says. "Now we are the second largest institutional investment advisory company, with Y11 trillion ($102 billion) of assets under management as a group."

For the past few years he has been on the lookout for a suitable replacement. "I had a sense of accomplishment and knew I shouldn't continue to be the leader. We needed new blood to take us to the next level."

After a prolonged search, BGI spoke with Asaoka and made him an offer in March. Asaoka joined the company this month.

Okamoto will remain with BGI but in the role of non-executive director chairman. This position has existed in the company's structure, but had gone unfulfilled. Now Okamoto can play that role, supervising the business. "This will strengthen our corporate governance," he says.

Under Asaoka, BGI will continue to focus on the pension market but also diversify more into managing assets for financial institutions.