Manulife Asset Management has unveiled the appointment of Michelle Ng from Mercer in a newly created role as portfolio specialist responsible for asset allocation.

Ng started as a managing director on December 2 based in Hong Kong. She will be responsible for helping to manage its multi-asset solutions in the region targeting both retail and institutional investors, partly with a view to meeting the pension needs of Asia’s swelling population.

Ng reports locally to James Chen, international head of institutional business and relationship management, and functionally to Boston-based Jeffrey Santerre, global head of the firm’s portfolio specialist team.

Asked why he had introduced this new role to Asia now, Chen tells AsianInvestor: "We are seeing a growing importance of multi-asset investment strategies internationally, including Asia."

Manulife AM offers a range of multi-asset solutions in Asia including target date, target return and target income funds, alternatives and international asset allocation portfolios across Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan. Its target-date fund on Hong Kong's Mandatory Provident Fund pension platform has accumulated gross returns of 14% over two years, notes a spokeswoman.

The firm expanded its asset allocation coverage into the international market in 2012, appointing Sarah Lu as head of asset allocation for Asia based in Hong Kong within its portfolio solutions group (PSG). The team was expanded this year, with Ricky Chau from Axa added as a director.

Overall Asia makes up just 4.6% (or $5 billion) of its PSG group's $108 billion in assets under management, so Manulife is eager to increase this penetration.

James Chen

Chen adds in a statement: “[Ng] joins us at a time when rapid demographic shifts in Asia and developed western markets and the lingering impact of the global financial crisis are fundamentally changing the investment landscape, raising the need for new ways to structure portfolios to deliver potentially attractive returns with a desirable risk profile.”

Ng joined Manulife from Mercer Investments, where she was most recently head of investment advisory for Greater China. She has previously worked with Watson Wyatt Hong Kong, Mercer Human Resources Consulting and Watson Wyatt Australia.

Overall Ng has spent eight years in the investments advisory industry and seven as an actuarial analyst covering employee benefits.

A spokeswoman for Mercer confirms Ng left two months ago. Asked if she had been replaced, he replied: “Not yet, but she will be soon.”