Independent fund house Invesco is using key hires to restructure its approach to both the retail and institutional sales effort toward Greater China.

It has just hired Steve Chiu from HSBC to spearhead its offshore retail funds business in these markets. This is the second senior hire for Invesco following the recent appointment of Desmond Ng to run institutional business development. Ng joined in August from JF Asset Management.

Andrew Lo, Asia-Pacific CEO at Invesco in Hong Kong, says these two new hires represent a new, more integrated business model aimed at developing business in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. ôWeÆre looking at these businesses as a single unit,ö he explains.

To this end the firm is preparing to open a rep office in Beijing, which will mainly liaise with local institutions and market InvescoÆs services to qualified domestic institutional investors (QDIIs) for international mandates. Patrick Liu, formerly sales director at Reuters, joined the firm this summer and will run the Beijing office. He reports to Desmond Ng.

ChiuÆs primary job is to promote the sale of offshore funds into these markets by developing distribution relationships. He comes from a distribution background at one of the regionÆs leading bank platforms for investment products.

He first joined what is today HSBC Investments (then known as Wardley Investment Services) in 1991 as a unit trust consultant. He moved into a role building sales channels for retail funds via the HSBC branch network across the region. In 1999, he led investment sales for in-house and third-party products at HSBC Personal Financial Services.

Invesco also has a joint venture in Shenzhen with Great Wall Securities. The JV is autonomous (Invesco owns 49%) but Invesco has arrangements with it for mutual support. ôFor example,ö Lo says, ôthe JV has clients that will be considering QDII.ö

Lo argues that these markets are becoming closer and warrant a unified approach. For example, InvescoÆs offshore funds and funds of funds are usually the same products for these markets. And its distribution partners such as HSBC and Citibank are also the same.

Invesco now sources $23 billion of assets from clients in Asia-Pacific, including Japan and Australia, with a combined headcount of around 400 people. Of that, Invesco Great Wall now accounts for around $2 billion.

The firmÆs investment management team in Hong Kong plus the JVÆs own team in Shenzhen manage a combined $5 billion of listed Chinese companies, including A shares, H shares, B shares and red chips; Hong Kong-based companies; and Taiex-listed companies. So the firm believes that these should also be viewed as a universe, although the JVÆs investment research and management remains separate.

Beyond Greater China, Invesco has offices in Japan and Australia, also under LoÆs supervision but with their own business development and investment management teams. The firm is also looking to build a business in South Korea, including pitching mandates to institutions, distributing offshore products and possibly one day obtaining a local license. It also has a sales team in Singapore that supports Chiu and Ng regionally.