Invesco in Hong Kong has hired Joann Ma from Janus International in a sales and marketing role under local CEO Edith Ngan. A spokeswoman for Invesco declined to define Ma's exact role, noting the move hasn't been announced yet. Ma starts her new job on Monday.

The hire has raised a few eyebrows in the industry, because Invesco has been shedding portfolio managers over the past year. One observer thinks the Ma hire is a positive sign that fund management companies are beginning to reposition themselves to take advantage of a modest recovery in equity markets that industry players expect toward the end of the year.

"This may be a sign that Invesco's a little more optimistic; you've gotta keep up with the marketing effort," says one.

Ma's departure is the second at Janus this spring, following that of Alex Lee, who has recently joined Allianz Dresdner Asset Management (Adam) to work under Eleanor Wan (herself a new hire at Adam from SG Asset Management).

Ma and Lee had worked together at New Alliance Asset Management. Ma joined Janus about a year ago, while Lee's tenure was shorter - only six months.

Howcy Yeung, Janus' Hong Kong-based Asia-Pacific director, says Ma's function had been a mix of sales and marketing. Now Janus is promoting Sabrina Leung to concentrate on marketing full time, while it is searching externally for a full-time salesperson. Yeung says a prospect has been selected but declined to name the person until the deal is finalized.

Meanwhile New Alliance's Singapore-based managing director Ajai Kaul continues his long search to replace Ma and Lee in Hong Kong. New Alliance is a joint venture between Alliance Capital and Sun Hung Kai.