Jupiter Asset Management is targeting an expansion of its retail business in Asia, just over a year after it opened its Hong Kong office as a regional hub.

The London-based firm aims to sign deals with up to four retail distributors over the next year and boost its Asia headcount accordingly, based on the business it wins.

It comes as the asset manager looks to further add to its staffing in Singapore, and hire an additional salesperson in the coming months.

In addition, the asset manager is aiming to move into emerging market debt.

On a visit to Hong Kong last week, Maarten Slendebroek, Jupiter CEO, told AsianInvestor that the firm was targeting global diversification, part of which involved an expansion of its Asia business.

“We’re trying to diversify our business in a better way than it was before,” Slendebroek said. “So we’re building out distribution internationally – diversification by geography, diversifying by client channel [and by product].”

Jupiter opened its first Hong Kong office in January last year in a bid to develop the firm’s regional presence.

The office now has a seven-strong headcount, after making hires last year in compliance and marketing.

Slendebroek said that hiring more staff for the Hong Kong office would be client-led – recruitment would be made when new distribution deals were signed and there was a need to service more clients. If a large new client was signed up, then employees would need to be flown in from other Jupiter offices around the world to meet the immediate servicing demands until sufficient additional staff were hired.

Jupiter's profile outside of the UK is mainly in global unconstrained products, led by its Dynamic Bond fund.

Peter Swarbreck, Jupiter’s head of Asia Pacific, who joined the firm in April 2013, told AsianInvestor that the target was to sign up to 3-4 retail distributors in Asia over the next year.

“Retail is definitely our next stop, a lot of our advertising and brand build is very focused on the retail side - we can’t do that in Singapore because we don’t have a full licence as we do here [in Hong Kong],” Swarbreck said. “And that takes time – building that brand leads to much greater retail traction. We’re only 18 months into building the brand so quite honestly if we think about a three-year window of getting retail business on board, I think that’s reasonable.”

Jupiter’s distributors are mainly private banks, but also include a small number of retail banks. Swarbreck declined to say how many distributors Jupiter had in Asia right now, other than to say they were “the major names”.

Swarbreck revealed that Jupiter’s Singapore office had been expanding, after having a single salesperson staffing it for a number of years. The Singapore office does not have an asset management licence and therefore focuses on selling to professional investors via intermediaries such as private banks and insurance companies. Swarbreck said that an individual had recently been hired in a support role, and Jupiter would be looking to hire a second salesperson for the office over the next three months.

As to the Singapore’s office’s future expansion, Swarbreck said: “We’ll see how that business goes and make decisions from there.”

Jupiter has Asia offices in just Hong Kong and Singapore and Slendebroek said there were no plans to open additional offices in the region.

Global emerging market debt is an area that Jupiter is looking to expand into, after making key senior hires over the past year in two other areas it is pursuing. Early this year, Stephen Mitchell joined Jupiter head of strategy for global equities. Last November, Ross Teverson joined in the newly-created role of head of strategy for global emerging markets, as part of a drive to expand the GEMs product range.

Slendebroek said that global emerging market debt was “an area I remain phenomenally interested in”.

“For us it makes sense - we are talent-led and I look for sectors that are temporarily out of favour and clearly emerging market debt is clearly going through a tough time, so that means there is talent available. It’s difficult to attract top talent when everything is going swimmingly. Right now it is for us it is easier to find talent in emerging market debt than it was 2 years ago.”

As of March 31 this year, Jupiter had $51.6 billion of assets under management; at the end of March 2014, Jupiter had an AUM of $53.7 billion. Jupiter does not reveal separate numbers for Asia.