Singapore-based Fullerton Fund Management is strengthening its multi-asset and China investment capabilities, and also plans to expand its distribution into Australia this year.

Pranay Gupta, formerly CIO at Lombard Odier private bank, has joined the S$13 billion ($9.6 billion) fund house as head of multi-asset strategies. He started in January, reporting to Manraj Sekhon, chief executive and chief investment officer.

Fullerton already offers simple multi-asset balanced funds, led by Gerard Teo as head of strategy for multi-asset strategies. He now reports to Gupta, along with a portfolio manager and an analyst.

Sekhon said: “Our prospects and clients have expressed greater interest in sophisticated multi-asset strategy solutions, a greater desire for targeted return with clear risk parameters to achieve objectives. We see a real demand and we are investing further in this area.”

Hence resources will be added to the multi-asset team. Gupta’s team is now working on several multi-asset strategies, both as mutual funds (for institutional and individual investors) and mandates (for specific asset owners), but Sekhon declined to provide more details.

There has been a big increase in demand for multi-asset strategies in recent years in Asia, and momentum still appears strong. This week alone UK firm Standard Life Investments said highlighted plans to launch more multi-asset products in the region, while 20-30 such funds are tipped for launch in Taiwan this year. And Taiwan's state pension manager, the Bureau of Labor Funds, is in the process of selecting managers for $3.2 billion of global multi-asset mandates. 

Meanwhile, Fullerton is also investing in Shanghai, where it has a wholly foreign-owned entity. The office has six investment professionals focused on mainland stocks. By the end of 2016 the firm will add another member to the China equities team, hire a domestic fixed income analyst and an executive to help lead distribution efforts. The latter role will focus on Chinese institutional investors and private banks and intermediaries whose clients want to allocate offshore. 

These additions will complement Fullerton's offshore and onshore China bond capabilities in Singapore, noted Sekhon.

Meanwhile, the firm is eyeing a distribution partnership in Australia targeting institutional investors, intermediaries and private wealth clients. “Within next three months we hope to have a presence in Australia,” said Sekhon. “It is the right market for what we are doing, and there’s interest from potential partners. It is something we are working at and we hope we will announce a strategic commitment soon.”