Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management has made two senior appointments in Hong Kong.

Stephen Corry was recently promoted to Asia chief investment officer from his position as Asia-Pacific investment strategist. He replaces Tony Stanton who left the firm earlier this year. AsianInvestor was unable to confirm Stanton's current whereabouts by press time.

Meanwhile, Wilson So will start as head of North Asia global wealth management advisory in early December, succeeding Oh Eng Lock who has retired after five years at the bank. Reporting to Antony Hung, head of Asia-Pacific wealth management, So is tasked with developing the bank's presence in North Asia and honing its strategy.

With 28 years of industry experience, So joins from Smith Barney where he was head of its businesses in Asia, as well as Citi Private Bank in Hong Kong. He has also worked at Bank of America and Paine Webber.

The new appointees face a tough task -- or a big opportunity, depending on how you look at it -- helping Asia's affluent rebuild their lost wealth. The wealth of the region's high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) -- those with $1 million or more in investable assets -- fell by 22.3% to $7.4 trillion last year, below the level in 2006. That compares to a fall of 19.5% for global HNWI wealth, according to the 2009 Asia-Pacific Wealth Report published last month by Capgemini and Merrill Lynch.

Hong Kong HNWIs saw by far the biggest drop, losing 65.4% of their wealth, followed by those in Australia (29.7%), Singapore (29.4%) and India (29.0%). South Koreans got off lightest with a 13.4% decline in asset value, while Japan saw a fall of 16.7%.