UK fund house M&G Investments will carry on without a managing director of its Asian business once Andrew Hendry leaves the firm at the end of the year, AsianInvestor understands.

Hendry took charge of the Asian business, M&G's first operation outside the UK, four years ago. Having built a team and established profitability for the business, he has decided he needs a fresh challenge.

“That’s what I look for in terms of growing a business and that is what I signed up for with M&G,” he told AsianInvestor.

Under Hendry’s leadership, M&G has opened offices in Singapore and Hong Kong, hired teams in both locations (it now has 19 staff in Asia) and manages $4.5 billion of assets for clients in the region.

AsianInvestor broke the news in October 2011 that the company was transferring staff to Asia, recruiting locally and leasing office space in the region.

Hendry confirmed that the firm is not actively looking to replace him in the MD role. Raphael Jaggy, business manager at M&G Investments Asia, will be responsible for the general day-to-day management of the Asia business and retains oversight of its operating platform.

William Nott, chief executive of M&G Securities, affirmed the group's commitment to the region: “Andrew has put our business in Asia on the firmest possible footing for the next stage of its development. Asia is a vitally important region for us, accounting for about a third of global household wealth. That’s a great opportunity.”

But would it not be unusual for the firm to lack a chief executive in the region? Hendry replied: “It’s the same in Europe, where M&G has functional heads but no figurehead.”

Asked to comment on their thinking as regards a replacement for him, M&G said: “We are considering a number of options to cater for our growing business in Asia.”

India-born Hendry will most likely remain in the region and, despite all the current negative sentiment on China and emerging markets generally, said he believed in “the irrepressibility of the Asian human spirit".

However, he sounded a note of caution in the short term: “It’s going to be a difficult environment in Asia in 2016. There will be increasing pressure on fund management fees and we will continue to see the rise of low-cost passive investments.

"When you combine that with the effects of turbulence in China, it’s going to make for a miserable year. You’ve already seen some consolidation in wealth management and private banking. We’ve had a wonderful few years, and this is a time when we have to do some hard work.”

At M&G, Ben Cherrington, director of intermediary business for Hong Kong and Singapore, and Marcel De Bruijckere, director of institutional business for Asia Pacific, will continue in their roles focusing on distribution in the private wealth and institutional spaces, respectively.

Meanwhile, Korean-speaking Jeik Sohn, who has been with M&G Investments Asia since it was set up in 2011, was named investment director in June with a view to strengthening the investment proposition for clients.