Mirae Asset Global Investments (HK) is expanding its distribution capabilities with a focus on institutional business.

The firm is looking to hire more regional sales directors in response to heightened interest in its Ucits products.

It comes as the firm, which manages the Asia ex-Japan products of Korea's Mirae Asset Financial Group, named a recently-recruited sales director for institutional business.

Ashley Dale, head of international business development at the Hong Kong-based firm, said the wholesale distribution business had already made progress through himself and Sabrina Kwek, sales director focused on private banks, driving business development in three regions: Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Europe.

The firm is keen to grow its institutional business as it has seen increased interest from institutions in its Luxembourg-Sicav Asia ex-Japan products. In this regard it hired Eldora Wong, sales director for institutional business for Asia, from Robeco last month. Wong was assistant vice-president for institutional business at Robeco for more than a year.

In addition to Wong, Mirae is hiring two sales directors for institutional business, one to cover Southeast Asia (to be based in Hong Kong) and one for Australia (to be based in Sydney) where Mirae owns ETF provider BetaShares..

Dale said the recruitment process is ongoing and no one has been offered the job yet. All sales directors will report to Dale.

“The hiring is part of our overall expansion of distribution capabilities globally,” Dale said. “In the past year, we’ve seen really decent flow into our Luxembourg-domiciled Asia ex-Japan products from institutional investors. The institutional market is ready for us now." In the UK, Mirae has seven sales directors covering the key markets.

"As our products have gained track record and a good amount of assets under management, these have become attractive to the highly-sophisticated client base,” he added.

The firm was established in 1997 as a pioneer of the mutual fund industry in Korea. It marketed itself as a local provider offering global products such as Asia ex-Japan, global emerging markets, and single-country funds all domiciled in Korea.

In the past few years it has launched 15 Luxembourg Sicav funds that are being sold to international clients globally. Mirae’s fund range has $1.7 billion in assets under management, of which 70% were driven by wholesale business.

"But we’re finding the institutional mix is increasing, as well as us now managing separately managed accounts (SMAs) for a number of key institutions, including a recently launched Asia sharia-compliant equity product for a Middle Eastern client. The products have shown maturity, enabling institutions to come to us,” noted Dale.

When asked about trends in the wholesale business, Dale said: “what we've noticed in the past 18 months is a shift in investors' appetite from little to no interest in Asia ex-Japan and GEM equity to a growing appetite towards that asset class over the past six months, although most asset buyers remain underweight/neutral, while still favouring developed markets. Now, however, the valuation differential and the relative growth rates are hard for investors to ignore."

He added that demand for its highly concentrated long-only portfolios, which are broadly benchmark agnostic, has also taken off. "Because it is recognised that many funds in Asia are not much better than benchmark investors, where the Asian benchmarks are not representative of the new, exciting stories are coming from the region," Dale noted.

Dale was appointed head of international business and chief marketing officer in 2013 as part of the firm’s push towards global investors, as reported.

Mirae Asset Global Investments was ranked No 38 by AsianInvestor in the top 100 asset managers in terms of AUM in Asia in 2014. The firm grew its AUM in Asia Pacific in 2014 to $57 billion from $54 billion in 2013.