UK-based M&G Investments has been building up its Asian headquarters in Singapore, with funds veteran Marcel de Bruijckere the latest to arrive. He brings the regional headcount up to nine, four of which are sales executives.

He started in Singapore as director of institutional business for Asia-Pacific on February 4, reporting to regional head Andrew Hendry, and will look after institutional business development across the region. 

Two more salespeople will join in the coming weeks to complete the team, but Hendry declined to name them as they have yet to start in their roles. “We've got everyone we need now across Hong Kong and Singapore,” he tells AsianInvestor.

De Bruijckere spent the past five months at Zoom Marketing Services, working on asset gathering, management consultancy and market research. Before that he spent a year as head of Asian distribution at LGT Capital Management in Singapore.

However, he spent most of his career at ABN Amro Asset Management/Fortis Investments from 1990 to 2010 in roles from fixed income portfolio manager to product developer to Singapore CEO of Fortis Investment Management and head of institutional sales for South and Southeast Asia.

De Bruijckere is now on a one-month induction in London, after which he will focus on building business in four markets: China, Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore.

He has extensive experience in Asia, says Hendry; at LGT he had responsibility for institutional and retail business, and at ABN Amro/Fortis he served across a variety of roles, including spending a substantial amount of time in Asia.

Last year was largely one of establishment and administration, notes Hendry, following the setup in Singapore as early as October 2011, then the incorporation of the Hong Kong office last April.

The other main focus in 2012 was on private bank distribution. “It was a tale of two halves,” he says. “At the start they needed to know who we are, and as an unknown brand [in Asia], that meant we had to do the legwork.

“Our story and approach hit home with quite a few people,” notes Hendry, “and also last year some of the risk aversion among private banks started to wane.”

The standout offering for M&G was its global dividend strategy, which proved popular in Asia, particularly in the fourth quarter of 2012, he says.

The fund returned 13.1%, versus 11.4% for the MSCI All Country World Index over the past year, 13.8% over three years versus 11.3% for the MSCI ACWI, and 10.6% since inception (almost five years) versus 7.1% for the MSCI ACWI.