Pensions and investment consultancy Mercer has made changes to its investment consulting division's Asia-Pacific management team, and will soon announce further appointments in India.
Simon Eagleton has been named Asia-Pacific investment consulting regional business leader, having served as investment consulting business leader for Australia and New Zealand for the past four years. He took on the new role last week and will relocate to Singapore in the third quarter.
Eagleton will build on Mercer's investment consulting presence in growth markets, such as Greater China, India, Singapore and Korea, as well as expanding global services such as Mercer Sentinel and Mercer's global manager research boutiques, says the firm.
He retains his business leadership role in Australia and New Zealand, but only for the time being, and Mercer will make further announcements down the road. He will also join the investment consulting leadership team (ICLT), which oversees the global investment consulting business.
Eagleton succeeds Tony Cole, who has worked with the Asia-Pacific investment consulting team for 14 years, holding Australian and regional leadership positions. Sydney-based Cole is taking on a new role centred on key client consulting, intellectual capital and thought leadership, and representing Mercer with government and other agencies in the region. He continues to serve as a member of the ICLT.
"Tony's new role will allow him to get more involved with some of our most significant clients," Eagleton tells AsianInvestor. Cole's particular area of expertise is the public sector, retirement schemes and the like -- he was a "key architect" of Australia's mandatory superannuation scheme, as a former secretary to the Treasury, says Eagleton.
Meanwhile, Anthony Lane, Asia-Pacific chief operating officer for investment consulting in Sydney, will lead Mercer's global manager research boutiques business, one of the fastest growing areas of investment consulting at Mercer. Lane takes over those duties from Jeff Schutes, Mercer's US investment consulting business leader, and will relocate to London early next year.
Lane's regional COO duties will pass to another executive; the firm is currently making the transition, but Eagleton would not reveal any names.
By "boutiques", Mercer refers to the way it structures and labels its existing research resources, says Eagleton. The company organises itself by specialisation, in the sense that it will have an equity boutique group of managers, a fixed-income group and so on.
"We're on a journey to re-tool our management research space to better engage clients -- and that requires global leadership," he adds.
The increasing complexity involved with structuring investment arrangements, designing bespoke mandates and assessing innovative and niche products points to the value these boutiques can bring through direct involvement with clients, says Mercer.
While the company has a long-established business in several Asia-Pacific markets, such as Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore, says Eagleton, it is also building up in other countries -- for example, through offices in Shanghai and Seoul.
India is also a focus and will be the location of several further imminent hires, but he would give no more detail. In fact, Mercer recently rated its first funds manufactured by a domestic asset manager in India, ICICI Prudential.
Wealth management is another area of expansion for Mercer. "We're advising platforms, IFAs, multi-manager groups and so on -- whether it's on, say, strategy design, portfolio construction or advice on multi-manager funds," says Eagleton. Hong Kong, India and Singapore offer "particularly exciting opportunities in the medium term", he adds, but Mercer is also looking at other markets, such as China and Japan.
Andrew Kirton, global head of Mercer's investment consulting business in London, says: "We believe this realignment of responsibilities positions Mercer for continued success in a number of major growth markets. Asia-Pacific is of particular interest to us, given the wealth of professional and private investors and growing savings pools."