Harvest Global Investments (HGI), the offshore arm of China’s Harvest Fund Management, is revamping its sales team and strategy, including putting more focus on private bank distribution, AsianInvestor can reveal.
Hong Kong-based HGI's heads of product and Asia business development left in March, while other staff are set to join. The shake-up follows the hiring late last year of salespeople across its offices in Hong Kong, London and New York soon after the arrival of Ashley Dale in August as chief business development officer.
Dale told AsianInvestor in an exclusive interview that HGI was expanding and reorganising sales resources globally. It aims to rely less on Deutsche Bank, which owns 30% of Harvest FM, for distribution of actively managed funds, he added, as it moves to expand its international product range, after launching its first Ucits fund last month.
However, some industry observers suggested that Harvest FM, with Rmb700 billion ($110 billion) in AUM as of end-2016, was under pressure as its international business had not been as successful as had been hoped.
Certainly Chinese asset managers face an increasingly competitive market, as a result of both international rivals building mainland capabilities, and direct access to onshore assets becoming easier for foreign investors as Beijing steadily opens its capital markets.
Comings and goings
Michelle Chua, the former head of Asia business development, left HGI in March, having been there since June 2011. Jeff Lim, formerly of product and client service, moved on in the same month after working at the firm since 2011.
A new head of product is set to join in the next few weeks, said Dale.
“On the product and marketing side we need someone who speaks Chinese, as they will be doing a lot of work with Chinese institutions, such as insurance companies looking to build offshore exposure," he noted. "We need someone who has worked with large Chinese institutions and with with international companies.”
The new hire will focus mainly on product design but will also liaise closely with the sales team and clients, added Dale. “That's something we've missed before.”
Chua will not be directly replaced, as HGI has Asia covered through hires it made late last year: Wang Ruiqi as head of sales for China and Yuki Nishio as head of sales for Korea and Japan.
Instead the firm will bring in an individual in Hong Kong to cover private banks and other intermediaries. Dale said HGI was close to hiring someone who could liaise with the banks not only at head office in the US or Switzerland, but with their offices in Asia and elsewhere.
In Southeast Asia, intermediaries will be covered by the new private banking specialist, while Dale and other members of the six-strong team in Hong Kong will continue to cover institutional clients.
Outside Asia, HGI is beefing up the US sales team, following the October transfer of Angela Wang to New York from London as the first dedicated US salesperson. Over the medium term the firm will be making announcements to that end, said Dale, and launching new funds in the US, likely including a Chinese equity fund.
The imminent appointments will follow a raft of hires late last year. Between September and December HGI appointed Wang Ruiqi and Nishio, as well as Sirinda Flik as head of sales for Europe. Wang and Nishio assumed newly created roles, said HGI, while Flik replaced Angela Wang, following the latter's move to New York.
Meanwhile, Harvest launched its first Ucits product in April, a China equity strategy, with a view to selling it in Europe and in Asia, and more Ucits funds are to come. The China Evolution Equity fund only has $10 million in assets so far, noted Dale, but will receive a capital injection from an institutional client within a few weeks.
In the past HGI had relied heavily on Deutsche Bank for distribution of both its active and passive funds. Harvest and Deutsche jointly offer exchange-traded funds in Asia and the US and will continue to work together to market those. But HGI expects to more independently promote and sell its planned Ucits range across China and Asia, said Dale, starting with the China Evolution product.
Harvest is not alone in making senior personnel changes recently. There have been shakeups at fund houses HSBC Global Asset Management and Value Partners, as well as consultancy Mercer, as reported by AsianInvestor.