A year after UK-based Martin Currie Investment Management opened a Singapore office, the firm’s Asia business development director Chen Ee-Fang has left the Scottish firm.

Kimon Kouryialas, Martin Currie’s Asia-Pacific head, will relocate from Australia to Singapore in early November to hire a replacement for Chen and look after Asian clients. “This will keep me closer to the institutions, consultants and wealth managers, where we’ve built some very strong relationships,” Kouryialas says.

The search has already started for a replacement and the firm hopes to have someone on board by the first quarter of next year.

“It’s about finding the right person for our firm, which is a boutique, active, equity-only, employee-owned manager,” says Kouryialas. “We need someone who believes in that model, so we’re looking for quite a unique individual – someone who can drive the region based on their own with support from Edinburgh.

“[Chen’s departure] doesn’t change what we’re doing or plan to do in Asia,” he adds. “We continue to focus on opportunities in China, Hong Kong and Singapore.” Clients have been showing particular interest in China A-shares, Taiwan and Asia ex-Japan global resources, he says.

Chen's move follows an expansion of Martin Currie’s global emerging markets (GEM) investment team in Edinburgh. Antti Olkinuora and Darius Sliwinski left recently, but six new portfolio managers have joined from UK firm Scottish Widows Investment Partners. The move was announced in May as part of Martin Currie’s separation of its GEM team from its Asian equities team.

Jason McKay had previously run the combined Asian/GEM desk. He will remain as head of the Asia team, while the GEM desk will be run by Kim Catechis, who starts on October 24, along with Alastair Reynolds and Andrew Nest. Three other new hires – Jeff Casson, Divya Mathur and Mohammed Zaidi – are already on board, having joined in late August.

The splitting out of the Asian desk will benefit Asian clients, given the more dedicated focus on their region, says Kouryialas.