Manulife Asset Management has appointed former Goldman Sachs staffer James Chen as its new head of institutional sales and relationship management for Asia.

Effective from October 3, Chen joined as senior managing director based in Hong Kong. He was hired from Vision Investment Management (Asia), where he spent the past 10 years as managing director. He was formerly an executive director at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, as well as sales director at Scudder Kemper Investments (Asia).

He comes in to replace Avere Hill, Manulife AM’s former head of institutional sales and marketing, who left the firm at the end of January this year, a spokeswoman confirms.

Chen will now oversee a team of eight, featuring three for institutional sales based in Singapore and Hong Kong, a product manager in Hong Kong, three client services and relationship management personnel and one sales support person.

He reports to Michael Dommermuth, president and head of Manulife Asset Management (Asia), and functionally to Jean-Francois Courville, Toronto-based president and CEO.

Only this July Manulife AM hired Mahesh Fonseka in a new role as product manager for its institutional sales and marketing team to develop materials and support the communication of investment strategies. He covers both equities and fixed income out of Hong Kong.

At the start of this year Manulife AM also appointed Ronald Chan from Pacific Eagle as senior managing director and head of equities for Asia. He came in to replace Tahnoon Pasha, who left in the middle of last year to become Asia ex-Japan CEO for equities and fixed income at Aviva Investors, the asset management arm of UK insurer Aviva.

Chan manages a team of 11 Hong Kong-based analysts and fund managers who take care of products for the Greater China and Asia-Pacific region. He also oversees a team of over 45 equity portfolio managers and analysts across Asia, while working closely with almost 40 Beijing-based equity staff at the firm’s joint-venture in China, Manulife TEDA Fund Management Company.

Manulife AM is striving to broaden its institutional and wholesale client base in Asia in a drive to double Asian AUM to $80 billion within five years, Courville told AsianInvestor earlier this year.

Manulife operates a dual mandate that features direct institutional engagement and sales through affiliated distribution channels in Asia and subsidiary John Hancock in the US.

Courville reckoned that affiliated distribution accounted for about 30% of global sales, while he said about 30% of the firm’s institutional mandates awarded in Asia ex-Japan were through a consultant, compared with 90% for North America.

Recent institutional mandate wins announced by Manulife include the firm being selected by Daiwa Asset Management in Japan to manage an $89 million Japan fixed income fund, and a $15 million dim-sum bond exposure for the Hong Kong Hospital Authority Provident Fund Scheme.

Manulife Asset Management is the global asset management arm of Canada-based Manulife Financial. It has offices with investment capabilities in the US, Canada, the UK, as well as across nine markets in Asia. Indonesia makes up a high component of its P&L in the region.