Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI) has seen its head of Hong Kong and its Asia-Pacific head of real estate leave in quick succession, as fund houses' regional management teams continue to shrink.

Hong Kong-based David Lam and Singapore-based Kang Puay-Ju, who was also global head of the real estate multi-manager team, left their roles in mid-April and December respectively. Their duties have been absorbed internally.

Ian Macdonald

Ian Macdonald, Singapore-based deputy head of Asia-Pacific, assumed Lam’s former responsibilities as Hong Kong head in mid-April, a spokesman told AsianInvestor.

“Institutional and wholesale client relationships will continue to be managed by the teams based in Hong Kong,” he added. 

Lam had previously reported to Macdonald and supported ASI’s relationships with key investors and distributors in Hong Kong. He had joined in August 2018, after working for multi-family office Carret Private, UK private bank Coutts and Swiss fund manager GAM, among other firms.

AsianInvestor could not ascertain whether Lam had anything else lined up, and he could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, Kang completed her notice period at ASI last month after resigning in December. After some 13 years with the UK asset manager, she had decided to take a break from the industry to spend more time with her family, the spokesman said. Kang could not be reached for comment.

London-based Mark Wilkins, formerly head of real estate multi-manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, has succeeded her to lead the 13-strong global multi-manager team.

PROPERTY PUSH

John Lee continues in his role as head of Asia-Pacific direct real estate, part of an 18-strong team globally, the spokesman said.

ASI has been ramping up its regional property push in recent years, with a view to servicing the growing demand it anticipates from European investors. Kang was tasked in 2018 with building up a direct investment effort in Asia and oversaw last year's acquisition of boutique real estate fund manager Orion Partners. 

Mark Wilkins

“Our growth plans for Asia direct real estate continue as planned,” said the spokesman. “We are committed to progressing new opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Over the last few months, Puay-Ju has worked closely with the team and colleagues to ensure a seamless transition,” he added. “There is a well-established institutional framework for running the business, enshrined in our investment process.”

Moreover, in September ASI had hired a new Asia-Pacific head of real estate investment research, Sai Min-Chow, to replace Milan Khatri, who had left earlier in the year.

More recently, Louisa Chin started at ASI in Hong Kong last month as an associate director for institutional sales. The spokesman could not immediately confirm where she had worked previously or whether she had replaced anyone.

Meanwhile, management teams have been shrinking at other fund houses too in recent months, against a backdrop of a tougher environment for active asset managers, now compounded by the major economic downturn expected as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Barings, BlackRock and Value Partners are just three recent examples of firms paring senior executives. Moreover, the trend of consolidating for cost-efficiency and scale has continued with the merger of US rivals Franklin Templeton and Legg Mason.