Korea’s KB Asset Management has re-hired Cho Jaemin as chief executive as it eyes its first overseas branches and looks to expand its range of alternative and overseas products, amid sluggish markets at home.
Cho (pictured below) told AsianInvestor he had three main objectives. First, he will focus on improving the performance of the firm’s equity funds, which he said had not been very satisfactory in the past couple of years.
In an interview with local media on December 27, Cho was reportedly quoted as saying domestic equity funds had lost an average -5.18% during 2016 (against a gain of 5.63% for the Kospi stock index). As such, he said he would focus on regaining investor trust in the performance of such strategies.
Another of Cho's goals is to implement more dynamic asset allocation, to improve equity returns – for example, through by using tactics involving local versus global allocation and equity versus fixed income.
Finally, Cho told AsianInvestor he would seek to turn KBAM into a local and international powerhouse in alternative investments.
Such ambitions would seem to dovetail with the firm's reported plans to build out a foreign presence.
KBAM is planning to set up its first overseas subsidiary in Singapore in March 2017, former CEO Lee Hee-Kwoon was quoted as saying in an interview in early December.
He added that the firm was considering setting up an office in the US to expand its global infrastructure investment, which is expected to get a boost under the incoming Donald Trump administration.
A KBAM spokesman said the firm had made no further moves on these fronts since then and will not be doing anything for the time being, since Cho has just taken the new post.
Local rivals Samsung AM and Mirae Asset have had substantial foreign presences for a number of years, such as in Hong Kong, including overseas listings of exchange-traded funds.
Cho replaced Lee, who has served as CEO since Cho left the post in 2013. Lee has not yet taken up a new role, a source told AsianInvestor.
Cho previously served as CEO from 2009 to 2013 at KB AM, the fourth biggest Korean asset manager, with $46 billion under management.
Prior to rejoining KBAM, he was CEO of KTB AM in Korea from 2013 to 2015; it is not clear what he had been doing since he left that role. Before his first stint at KBAM, he was CEO of Midas AM from 2000 to 2009.
During his previous tenure at KBAM, Cho oversaw the launch of a range of new asset class funds focused on areas such as value equity and infrastructure. One example is the KB Value Focus Fund.
Cho started his career as an FX dealer and bond manager at international financial institutions such as Citi, Crédit Agricole and Standard Chartered.