Edith Ngan has been promoted to chief executive officer at Invesco in Hong Kong running day to day operations. The move has been designed to allow Asia Pacific chief executive Andrew Lo to focus on business development. Before this Ngan had been deputy CEO responsible for institutional, retail and MPF marketing for Hong Kong and Singapore; now she will also oversee investments and the back office.
"Andrew's mandate has always been about positioning," Ngan says. "He was involved in building our presence in Hong Kong, buying County in Australia, Grand Pacific in Taiwan and integrating our Japan operation."
Lo retains overall responsibility for the Asia-Pacific business, where Invesco has over 400 employees and manages $15 billion. He continues to oversee the firm's strategy and says his biggest task at present is to solidify the firm's China presence with a joint venture. Invesco has had a strategic relationship with Shenzhen-based Penghua Fund Management, but Lo says while discussions and cooperation with Penghua continue, forging an actual JV could happen with other parties as well.
Ngan spearheaded the firm's drive into Hong Kong's Mandatory Provident Fund scheme business, among others. She will be responsible for the Hong Kong and Singapore hubs, which also look after business in South Korea, Southeast Asia and the subcontinent. Ngan, who joined the firm in 1996, is also the first woman to reach the CEO level in Amvescap, the Anglo-American company that owns Invesco.
Ngan sees several trends, particularly in Hong Kong, that will provide growth opportunities for the firm. She notes that 18 months ago, before MPF's launch, the retail mutual funds industry was dominated by global banks with open architecture such as Citibank and Standard Chartered. Today distribution options are expanding, thanks to MPF, which encouraged other fund distributors such as insurance companies into the act, and also jumpstarted a nascent industry of independent financial advisers.
In addition, the low interest rate environment and deflation continue to prompt novice investors into mutual funds to improve the returns they would get from a bank deposit (as opposed to the traditional mutual fund investor, who is a gambler). This trend has been evident in the rapid growth of guaranteed mutual funds.
Hard times for corporate plan sponsors are also creating opportunities for Invesco. Many companies retained their existing pension plans when MPF was created, but today poor market conditions are creating fund problems, particularly for the defined benefit schemes. So they are consolidating or moving more into MPF, giving relatively recent entrants such as Invesco a chance to capture their business.
Last, the market turmoil in the United States is prompting US and European pension funds to allocate a larger portion of assets to Asia, making it easier for Ngan's team to sell local investment products.