GAM restructuring sales team: sources

Following two recent departures to Swiss firm Syz, asset manager GAM is said to be revamping its sales team in Asia with a view to putting local heads in place.
GAM restructuring sales team: sources

Swiss asset manager GAM Holding is understood to be moving to restructure its sales set-up in Asia along more local lines, following the exit of two salespeople with regional remits to join Banque Syz.

GAM is looking to appoint other executives not as direct replacements, but with a view to covering specific markets or regions, said a source.

Where the group used to have separate distribution teams in the region for its units GAM and Swiss & Global Asset Management, it is believed to have integrated them in recent months under Henry Choon, head of Asia ex-Japan at GAM Holding. He had joined in November last year from Lazard Asset Management. GAM declined to specify when the integration took place.

Tina Siu left Swiss & Global to join Swiss private bank and asset manager Syz in September as senior vice president for business development. She remains in Hong Kong and will focus on institutions and private banks, as she did at Swiss & Global.

Siu is not thought to have directly replaced anyone. But there has been turnover on the Syz team – it was five-strong when the Asia office was set up and remains that size now despite changes in personnel. 

Siu rejoins former boss Suzanna Wong, who joined Syz in July to head its Asia business, replacing Daniel Ghirardi, who has returned to Europe and is thought to be assessing options. Wong was previously Asia head of sales at Swiss & Global.

Siu said she had wanted a new challenge after spending seven years at her former firm. She and Wong, who herself spent eight years at Swiss & Global, had reported to Michele Porro, then global sales head in Zurich and now head for continental Europe.

Syz's plan is to increase its regional headcount by acquiring or partnering with an Asia-based asset manager, as reported. It is understood to have identified several potential targets and plans to add more to that list.

Syz, with $40 billion in AUM, told AsianInvestor in 2012 that it had wanted to bring on board investment staff but has not done so yet. It started its Asia operations in Hong Kong in 2007 with a fund-of-hedge-fund business. 

GAM's Choon declined to comment, except to say that the resposibilities of Siu and Wong had been taken on by other colleagues. GAM Group had Sfr124.1 billion ($129 billion) in AUM as of September 30, but declined to break out the figure for Asia or its individual units.

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