Invesco is waving goodbye to its long-standing Asia Pacific head of operations, a quarter-century veteran of the US fund house, described yesterday by one executive as “a legend of the industry”.

While the firm – and its institutional clients – will sorely miss Dean Chisholm’s experience and expertise, preparations have been in place for some time.

On Chisholm’s retirement from the post on December 31, Cliff Bullock will step into his shoes, having joined in mid-2018 as Asia Pacific head of investment operations as part of a succession plan, according to an internal memo seen by AsianInvestor

Dean Chisholm

“As we say goodbye to a treasured colleague and dear friend,” said the statement, “we want to thank Dean for the positive, lasting impact he has made to Invesco and our teams.” 

Chisholm and Invesco have also helped the firm’s asset owner clients in various ways over the years. For example, by helping them to be more tax-efficient through early adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards to meet objectives across multiple tax jurisdictions, with Cayman Islands funds as a low-cost vehicle.

Moreover, in the early days of investing into mainland China, Chisholm and Invesco spent a great deal of time on market education for institutional clients.

As the memo said, Chisholm was instrumental to the 2003 launch of the Invesco Great Wall asset management joint venture in China. In addition, “he was also a key sponsor to bring our money market funds to Ant Financial’s [online] Yu’e Bao platform”.

Chisholm – named in 2012 as AsianInvestor’s COO of the Year – has also seen evolution in areas such as technology and data management that have had a huge impact on how institutions invest and run their portfolios. And likewise, changes in investment strategy that have increased the demands on asset managers. 

“If you go way back, many investors were buying Asia Pacific portfolios following the traditional fixed income-equity split, and that was often about it,” Chisholm told AsianInvestor. “But now the big houses, including ourselves, are effectively having to sell advice on the full range of asset classes. And you have to price accordingly, where you can actually add value.”

This evolution has led to much more rigorous requirements when it comes to data and technology. “You’re investing in multiple asset classes, and you've got to have data to service multiple asset classes,” he said.

“The reality now, for an asset manager servicing asset owners, is that you’re not just having a conversation about Asian equities,” Chisholm added. “You’re having a conversation [with clients] about what they are trying to achieve with their portfolio and what different options they can bring to the table.”

To that end, Chisholm's breadth of experience across markets will have provided much-needed insight. He held a number of operations and internal audit roles in Asia Pacific while at Invesco. He is the supervisor of Invesco Taiwan and trustee of the retail funds of Invesco’s subsidiary in India and was previously the supervisor of Invesco Great Wall.

He is also a member of the Hong Kong government-sponsored Financial Services Development Council new business committee and co-chair of Hong Kong Exchange and Clearing buy-side council.

And Chisholm may not be totally done with asset management just yet.

Asked what he envisaged doing following his departure from Invesco, he said: “The initial game plan, once Covid abates, is to go sailing in the Philippines and trekking in India and Nepal. I may also look for some part-time opportunities to stay in touch with the industry.”