JP Morgan Asset Management has appointed a dedicated head of alternatives solutions for Asia Pacific to cater to growing regional demand for such strategies.

Shawn Khazzam, previously Asia-Pacific head of product strategy and development, took up the post of Asia-Pacific head of the alternatives solutions group (ASG) in July.

Based in Hong Kong, he reports to New York-based Jamie Kramer, global head of ASG at the US-based firm.

Khazzam was previously Asia-Pacific head of product strategy and development and has been succeeded by Natalie Ho, who was previously a member of the same team.

Shawn Khazzam

Her previous responsibilities have been shared among the product strategy team, a spokeswoman told AsianInvestor.

Further additions to the team will be announced in due course, she added.

ASG is a small and newly formed client servicing and thought leadership team that sits within JP Morgan Global Alternatives, the firm's platform for alternative strategies.

Formed when Kramer was appointed to lead the group in March 2018, the ASG has members across New York, London and Hong Kong.

Previously she was global head of product strategy, and was replaced by product strategy co-heads Stephen Kaplan and Shari Schiffman, who were previously members of that group.

The Asia ASG team will partner with the asset manager’s client advisers on investor education and thought leadership initiatives in respect of alternatives, including hedge funds, real assets, private equity, private credit, and liquid alternatives. It will help tailor strategies and products for clients and also help come up with products based on client needs.

However, Khazzam and his team will not be managing money, the spokeswoman said.

The large majority of Apac institutions already invest in alternatives, with many planning to allocate as much as an additional 10 percentage points of their portfolios to alternatives in the coming years, according to research house Cerulli Associates.

“In the first half of this year alone, we’ve seen a 50% increase in client activity related to alternatives including meetings and events, suggesting the asset class is top of mind for Apac investors," said Khazzam in a media statement.

"We anticipate that interest and activity will only increase as we progress through a maturing business cycle and an increasingly uncertain macro environment."

The appetite for alts is not restricted to Asia: allocations to alternatives among sovereign wealth funds increased globally from an average of 10% in 2013 to about 20% in 2018, a survey showed earlier this year.

Most institutions that AsianInvestor spoke to recently have expressed their intention to raise their alternatives exposure, including Germany's Allianz, China LifeKorea Teachers Pension and Malaysia's Employees Provident Fund, to name just a few.