HSBC Global Asset Management has created the post of head of global insurance coverage and appointed 20-year HSBC veteran Patrice Conxicoeur to fill it, meaning it will have another global role based in Hong Kong.

Julie Koo, currently Asia-Pacific head of institutional sales, will take on Conxicoeur’s role as Asia-Pacific head of institutional business. The firm hasn’t yet decided on a replacement for Koo, who will assume both roles for the time being.

She joined HSBC Global AM early last year from US asset manager Fidelity, where she had worked for 15 years, most recently as head of institutional business development for Asia ex-Japan.

Conxicoeur, who held senior positions in the quantitative investment team before becoming regional head of institutional business in August 2008, outlined to AsianInvestor the rationale for the creation of his new post.

“For insurance companies looking for partners in emerging markets where they are already present or which they want to penetrate, we have something to offer, as we are local player in many of these places,” says Conxicoeur.

“Insurance companies, perhaps even more than other types of investors, understand what it means to have [a firm that is a] steady hand and that is committed for the long term,” he says.

Counterparty risk is an important consideration for them, and HSBC should provide comfort in that regard, adds Conxicoeur. 

This all presents a compelling proposition, he says, but not one that had been “stitched together” on a global basis. “That is something I will try to do.”

Asked why the position is being located in Hong Kong, Conxicoeur says: “We manage insurance assets on every continent except perhaps Africa – in Europe, the Americas and Asia. So it becomes a question of ‘where is the money and the growth’?”

“The bulk of money is clearly in the old world,” he says. “By far the largest amount of assets resides in Japan, the US, the UK and Germany.” But it is Asia and Latin America that are likely to see the fastest asset growth, he suggests.

“This leaves us with a conundrum. And Hong Kong is as good as any to locate a global job these days,” says Conxicoeur, adding that HSBC Global AM does run a substantial amount of assets for Asia-Pacific insurance clients.

HSBC Global AM already has a global position for sovereign-wealth fund coverage in London, held by Cynthia Sweeney-Barnes. Will a similar post be set up for, say, pension funds? “I can’t comment on that,” says Conxicoeur, “it’s not something I have been discussing.”

Conxicoeur and Koo will assume their new positions on May 1. They will report to both Joanna Munro, the firm's new Asia-Pacific CEO who will also officially start in May, and Barbara Rupf Bee, global head of institutional sales in London.

As of December 2010, HSBC Global AM had $443.5 billion in AUM globally. Over $70 billion of that is sourced from Asia-Pacific, of which 70% is institutional business.