Bank Julius Baer, one of the biggest managers of rich Asian clients' wealth, has filled a vacancy for the key investment role of head of fund specialists for Asia, a well-placed source has told AsianInvestor.

Donald Rice is understood to be taking up the Singapore-based post, which was vacated by John Cappetta in August. Rice was formerly the head of alternatives and deputy head of fund solutions for Asia Pacific at rival private bank Credit Suisse,

After around six years at Julius Baer, Cappetta joined Investec Asset Management this month to run its private bank coverage for Asia. He had previously held senior roles in Bank of America Merrill Lynch's ex-US wealth management business, which Julius Baer agreed to buy in 2012.

Donald Rice

Julius Baer declined to comment on the appointment.

Asia is a big chunk of Julius Baer's business: it accounted for $111.9 billion of the firm's $388 billion in global client assets as of end-2018, according to Asian Private Banker data.

Rice left Credit Suisse earlier this year (reportedly in May), where he had led a team covering hedge fund, private equity and real estate solutions, and was succeeded in the alternatives role by Salman Shah. Credit Suisse did not respond to questions about Rice's departure. 

At Julius Baer, Rice will rejoin former Credit Suisse colleague Rajesh Manwani, who is head of markets and advisory solutions for Asia.

Rice has big shoes to fill by all accounts. After moving to Singapore in 2007, Cappetta gained a reputation both for effective fund selection and for promoting lesser known asset managers, according to media reports.

Rice's experience at Credit Suisse should come in handy given the big growth in demand for alternative assets in recent years, particularly private market strategies. This reflects a similar trend among institutional investors.

He had worked at Credit Suisse for some 22 years, largely in Europe but since early 2016 in Asia. Rice has also served as an investment adviser to international pension funds and sovereign entities in areas such as strategy allocation and alternative investment selection.