JP Morgan AM mulls China institutional presence

The US firm may look to base institutional staff onshore to tap opportunities directly, says Rachel Farrell, its regional head of sovereign and institutional strategy.
JP Morgan AM mulls China institutional presence

US firm JP Morgan Asset Management may look to base institutional sales staff in China soon to tap opportunities directly depending on regulations, says Rachel Farrell, its head of sovereign and institutional strategy for Asia ex-Japan.

Speaking to AsianInvestor, Farrell noted the firm had offices in Hong Kong, Seoul, Taipei, Singapore, Sydney and Melbourne, but was still covering mainland China out of Hong Kong.

“At some point we would potentially look to base people onshore in China, depending on regulations and the evolution of institutional business in China,” she said. She also highlighted Malaysia as a possibility for an onshore presence.

Farrell has been engaged in a bedding-down period in her role over the past six months, having been appointed the firm’s head of sovereign and institutional strategy for Asia Pacific ex-Japan last August.

She previously covered sovereign and institutional strategy for South and Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, so has added a North Asia remit. She has also joined the Asian investment management operating committee.

Having worked through a transitional period, Farrell relocated from Singapore to Hong Kong to take up the role in full this December.

She continues to report to Patrick Thomson, global head of sovereigns for JP Morgan AM, who himself covers Japanese institutions. JP Morgan AM is set to make a public announcement on Farrell’s appointment this week.

She was promoted to take over part of the responsibilities of Andrew Economos, who was hired by US-based Capital Group last May – almost exactly a year ago – as senior vice-president of strategic solutions, as reported.

Economos had previously served as managing director of asset management, as well as Asia head of sovereign and institutional strategy at JP Morgan AM.

“I am honoured to be leading the team,” said Farrell, whose team now comprises about 20 client advisers, 10 sales support staff and a couple of specialists in insurance and consultants.

In terms of transition, Farrell has transferred consultant-focused Ian Ngo from Hong Kong to Singapore to help cover Southeast Asia institutions. She also hired Stephen Alcorn to head the Australian institutional coverage mid last year.

Farrell told AsianInvestor one of the team’s main areas of focus was using the firm’s multi-asset capabilities to provide a range of investment solutions, particularly non-benchmarked to meet clients’ inflation-plus or total return goals.

“What has also become important is the extent to which they can take on illiquidity risk to add returns to portfolios, in areas such as infrastructure, private credit and private equity,” she said.

Farrell pointed out that Asian asset owners had generally focused their investments on the West over the past 18 months, but were now beginning to revisit emerging markets on valuation terms.

She added clients were also trying to understand how to look at currencies in their portfolios, given volatility from divergent monetary policies globally. “They will be talking more about currency management over the next 12 months,” she noted.

Farrell joined JP Morgan AM in 2011. Prior to that she worked as head of Asia-Pacific investor relations and distribution for Citi Capital Advisors, the alternative asset management arm of Citigroup. She spent 12 years at the US bank.

She has also worked as head of the global discretionary portfolio management team for Bankers Trust Switzerland.

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