Manulife to hire locally to bulk up China pensions business

After taking full ownership of its China joint venture, Manulife Investment Management is busy recruiting top talent to build up capabilities in retirement fund management.
Manulife to hire locally to bulk up China pensions business

Manulife plans to hire local talent to enhance its pension business in China as it aims to grab a strong foothold in the newly-opened private pension provider space.

The Canadian financial institution will use its wholly-owned fund management business to expand the footprint of its pensions business.

“We understand the recipe for success in China is a combination of local talent and the ability to leverage global capability,” said Michael Dommermuth, head of wealth and asset management, Asia at Manulife Investment Management.

“Local talent and leadership are first and foremost. One of the many things our 125-year-long experience in China has taught us is the importance of trusting and empowering local talent as they are the team that truly lives and breathes China,” Dommermuth told AsianInvestor.

Apart from the lucrative potential of the multi-trillion dollar domestic mutual fund industry, several global investment managers are eagerly eyeing the pensions market after China kickstarted its private pension scheme last year, which allows mutual funds as a key product offering.


New appointments for key positions in Manulife IM's pensions-focused unit in China in the past few months include an interim general manager and a chief operating officer.

A few more hires for key business functions are expected in the next few months, Dommermuth said. 

“As a leading pension asset manager, we see tremendous opportunities from China’s private pension reform. We have the advantage of transferring our pension expertise and know-how to build up the FMC’s (fund management company) pension business,” Dommermuth said.

The plan is to hire a general manager to lead the unit after a transition period and a newly created role of deputy general manager for fixed income, which it hopes to fill before the end of March, Reuters reported earlier.

Manulife Investment Management didn’t provide further details on the hiring plans.


Manulife Investment Management announced on November 21, 2022, that it had acquired a 51% stake in Manulife TEDA Fund Management from its joint venture partner Tianjin TEDA International Holding, taking its ownership stake to 100%.

That makes Manulife IM the second foreign fund manager to establish a wholly foreign-owned mutual fund management firm in China, following BlackRock after the country scrapped foreign ownership caps in the mutual fund and securities sectors on April 1, 2020.

Michael Dommermuth,
Manulife IM

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Manulife TEDA Fund Management managed $12 billionin assets at the end of June 2022.

“One of our priorities after taking full ownership from our JV partner is to further enhance our fixed income and asset allocation strengths,” said Dommermuth.

The Canadian entity hopes local talent will help it enhance those strengths.

“Not only are these areas aligned with the strengths of our investment teams globally, fixed income and asset allocation are the essential capabilities required to deliver returns to a fast-aging China population that is facing a wide retirement funding gap,” he said.

When Manulife IM announced that it had taken full ownership of its China JV, it also announced the appointment of Jin Xu as chairman of the wealth and asset management business in China.

Jin also became chairwoman of the company and is forming a new management team.

China’s mutual fund assets were Rmb27.25 trillion ($3.97 trillion) at the end of January 31, almost double from Rmb15.5 trillion three years ago, latest data from the Asset Management Association of China showed.

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