Bank Julius Baer continues its regional build-up with the appointment of Lee Boon Keng to the newly created role of co-head of its Asia investment solutions group in Singapore.
Lee will also serve as regional deputy chief investment officer, working alongside Venkatraman Anantha-Nageswaran, CIO for Asia, who will be spending more time in Europe in that role.
Reporting to Kenneth Ho, Asia-Pacific head of products and investment solutions in Hong Kong, Lee will help manage Julius Baer's investment solutions and investment advisory in the Lion City.
He was previously chief investment strategist for Singapore at UBS Wealth Management, a role he took up just three months ago. As for naming a replacement, a UBS spokeswoman says: "We have a strong wealth management research team in place, but are always looking to strengthen it further. We will announce any new appointment in due course."
Before his stint at UBS, Lee had spent nine years as a senior investment strategist at Singaporean bank DBS. He is also published in the academic arena and is a regular commentator on trends and investment themes within the Asian markets.
He says he moved to Julius Baer because of the expanded role on offer, which meant he would be involved not only in driving investment strategy, but in the firm's overall approach to servicing clients and developing products.
Lee will now work on product development and investment advisory, with a particular focus on China and Japan. Anantha-Nageswaran will cover Southeast Asia, South Korea and Australia and, in terms of business areas, he will focus on portfolio and fixed-income research, as well as discretionary mandates, tax planning and so on.
The co-head role was set up for two mains reasons, says Lee. Julius Baer's clients want a better understanding of the firm's views with regard to investments, and the bank wants to build a specific arm that focuses on "Asia-centric" solutions.
The firm plans to build these solutions around three themes, says Lee. First is the "evolving mega-trend of China", related to the country's efforts to restructure its economy around domestic spending.
Then there is the "de-dollarisation of China" he says, referring to investments related to the likely decline in the importance of the US dollar as a store of value and method of international exchange.
The third theme is that of the concept of green technology and alternative energy. "Despite the so-called failure of Copenhagen [the global climate summit that took place in December]", says Lee, China will continue to move towards green tech and shift its dependence away from the global oil futures market.
As for the kind of specific products Julius Baer will offer, they could include funds or equities related to water or green energy, and funds or equities related to China becoming more domestically focused.
Lee's arrival follows the addition of Christopher Todd Burgess to head the newly formed international desk and run the external asset manager (EAM) business in Hong Kong. There are likely to be further additions to the EAM business.