UK investment manager Jupiter Asset Management has added to its sales team in Singapore with a new role as it seeks to step up client penetration of the region.

The firm, which manages $54 billion globally – of which Asia-based clients make up a single digit percentage – has hired Madeline Han as associate sales director.

She joined Jupiter on August 24, reporting to David Conway, sales director for Asia Pacific. Han previously worked at Franklin Templeton Investments for eight years as a senior relationship manager for retail fund distribution.

Jupiter now has 10 people based in Asia, with three in Singapore and seven in Hong Kong. It opened its HK office in January last year, as reported. However, it has no investment management presence in the region.

Peter Swarbreck, Asia-Pacific head, said he and chief executive Maarten Slendebroek – who previously worked together at BlackRock – had chiefly focused on gaining traction with banks, particularly global partners.

Swarbreck estimates that 85-90% of Jupiter’s business is the distribution of mutual funds to retail and high-net-worth individuals via wholesale partners.

He tells AsianInvestor it will be in sales and marketing that Jupiter will look to develop its Asian presence in future. “It depends on the business case, but we are also mindful not to overspend,” he said.

In Singapore Jupiter does not have an asset management licence, so reaches out to accredited investors via private banks.

Swarbreck says the firm has no plans at present to add any investment management capability in Asia, although would not rule it out in future. “All the investment professionals sit on one floor in the UK, to exchange ideas,” he noted.

“From starting this business [in Asia] two years ago, we formulated a plan [to add investment expertise] in year five. But it is an open debate. I have optionality on investment management in Asia. It is in the business plan.”

Jupiter has concentrated its Asia sales efforts on an unconstrained bond fund, which had $5 billion in assets at end-July, including from Asia (Swarbreck declined to say how much). It also runs the same strategy in a UK unit trust, which had $4.1 billion at end-July.

The strategy has been first quartile in annualised returns over one year (4.1%) and three years (7.85%), according to Financial Express data.

Asked about flows, Swarbreck said it had seen “hundreds of millions” in net inflows into the fund, chiefly from Asia and Europe. However, he confirmed the August volatility in global markets had prompted redemptions.

Jupiter has also looked to market its unconstrained European growth fund in Asia. The product comprises 35-40 medium to large-cap stocks. It has been first quartile over one (36.9%), three (21.2%) and five years (16.9%) annualised.

However, Swarbreck says multi-asset product is not a focus for Jupiter in Asia. “We talk about this all the time,” he noted. “But we want to be able to compete in the market and there are a multitude of these products from big houses. We have got other things to focus on right now.”