Having recently reshuffled its investment-consulting heads in Asia, Mercer is looking to build an investment-management business in the region for the first time, with a focus on multi-manager strategies.
But it will face stiff competition from established players in the multi-manager market, such as HSBC, Russell Investments and SEI Investments. And Mercer's life won't be made any easier by the fact that multi-manager strategies are under greater pressure to justify their relatively higher fees, post-crisis.
Stephen Roberts will join the consulting firm in Sydney on April 19 as Asia-Pacific regional business leader for investment management, a newly created post. He has 20 years' experience in the investment business, including seven years at Russell Investments, where he was most recently managing director of institutional investment services for Australasia.
Gary Burke will continue in his role as Sydney-based market business leader for investment management in Australia and New Zealand, and will report to Roberts.
With Roberts' appointment, Mercer builds on its established investment-consulting capabilities and will now offer its clients in Asia a complete range of investment-advisory services, including multi-manager solutions. Simon Eagleton, Mercer's new Asia-Pacific head of investment consulting, signalled these plans in an interview last month with AsianInvestor.
Rich Nuzum, global business leader for Mercer's investment-management business, says: "Trustees and other institutional investors in Asia are becoming more interested in considering the multi-manager model, as a result of governance challenges that became apparent during the global financial crisis.
"Use of a multi-manager approach may be attractive to clients who wish to free up internal decision-making time and expertise to focus on the most important strategic investment decisions," adds Nuzum.
Mercer has spent 15 years building its multi-manager capabilities in Australia, New Zealand, the US, UK, Canada and Ireland, says Peter Promnitz, Asia-Pacific region leader in Melbourne. "The time has now come for Mercer to bring those capabilities to Asia."