Hot on the heals of the recent departure of their co-CEO and sales and marketing director, Robert McPherson, Fortis Prime Fund Solutions has hired Elizabeth Yu as a senior client relationship manager. Yu, who has been based in Hong Kong for the past three years, was previously with Dexia where she worked in the business development division. Prior to that she worked in the operations side of the business with State Street in Canada.
"We hired Elizabeth before we knew about Bob's departure, as part of our continuing focus on providing quality service to our clients," says Tim Mann, director of operations.
Mann, who previously shared the CEO role with MacPherson, will now occupy this position on his own.
Joost Lobler, Fortis' London-based global head of sales, says they are actively seeking a replacement to fill MacPherson's shoes as regional head of sales. Bob MacPherson resigned from Fortis last week, reportedly to join Bank of New York, which is looking to muscle its way into Asia's fund administration business, now that a vacuum has been left by HSBC's acquisition of Bank of Bermuda.
"We've had an inflow of quality applicants, but this is a long-term decision and we're not going to rush it," says Lobler. He expects to visit Asia frequently in the interim, working with newly hired Yu and existing senior relationship manger Samuel Lee to cover their regional clientele.
Fortis denies rumours that MacPherson's departure had been accompanied by a mass defection of 23 staff from Fortis' Prime Fund Solutions team. "We've seen no such thing," says Mann. "In fact we've been aggressively adding headcount which has gone up from 44 to 62 in the last four months."
According to Mann, Fortis' regional business has been ramping up in line with the momentum developing in Asia's hedge fund industry. "Assets under administration have almost doubled from the $4 billion in October 2003, to $7.5 billion by the end of February. We should hit $8.5 billion by April."
Fortis has pursued a novel business of model of providing a one-stop shop as a hedge fund service provider with fund administration as well prime broking services. "This model is most developed in London. In Asia we are not at the stage where we are marketing ourselves as prime brokers. We provide fund administration plus custody and financing services. For some of our clients, we are effectively their prime brokers, but as yet we cannot manage this for every type of client," says Lobler.