Natixis Investment Managers (Natixis IM) has hired Gina Huang as its Beijing-based managing director and head of China, AsianInvestor can reveal.

Huang joined the French fund house on January 13 from JP Morgan in China, where she had been head of government relations for the US bank. At Natixis IM, she reports to Fabrice Chemouny, its Hong Kong-based head of Asia Pacific.

Gina Huang

The appointment of Huang fills the hole left by the relocation of David Plard back to Natixis IM’s Paris headquarters. AsianInvestor reported last month that Plard, who was the fund manager’s China country head and China/Hong Kong head for institutional business, was set to relocate.

In her new role, Huang is responsible for leading and developing Natixis IM’s fund business in China and is also tasked with leading its institutional business development in Hong Kong and Macau, according to an internal correspondence seen by AsianInvestor.

While Huang is taking on Plard’s responsibilities, her role will become bigger as the company grows in Asia, said a company spokeswoman. 

Huang should be able to use the knowledge and relationships with key institutional and government bodies gained from her former job at JP Morgan to help Natixis IM expand its mainland business. Natixis IM, which had just over $1 trillion in assets under management at end-September, said in the internal correspondence that China is “a key focus for our success in the region”.

Before joining JP Morgan in May 2018, Huang worked at BNY Mellon for four years as its Beijing branch manager. She was previously the head of secondary market surveillance at the National Association of Financial Market Institutional Investors for two years, and before that Huang headed the derivative supervision division at the China Banking Regulatory Commission (as it was then called). 

JP Morgan declined to comment on Huang’s departure.

REFORM AND GROWTH

Huang’s appointment comes at an interesting time for China’s fund management industry. It has been awash with reform over the past year, including the announcement by the State Council last July that asset managers could make fund management company (FMC) applications in 2020, a year earlier than its original plan in 2017. 

The change essentially allows foreign fund houses to apply for full ownership of joint ventures they possess in China from this year. According to the Asset Management Association of China, there were 44 joint-venture fund managers in China at the end of October. Investment management wholly foreign-owned enterprises (IM Wfoes) could also ask to become FMCs, as this would let them offer mutual funds as well as private funds to the general public. 

International fund houses are keen to take advantage of the reform. They see plenty of opportunities in a country that advisory firm KPMG predicts will house the world’s second-largest asset management market by 2025, while consultancy Casey Quirk predicts it could happen as soon as next year

Canadian fund house Manulife Investment Management even described China as a “must-win battlefield” for its wealth and asset management business when naming Ernest Yeung as its managing director for wealth and asset management in the country in June 2019.

The desire of foreign fund managers to gain a foothold in this growing market is leading them to eagerly seek experienced financial executives, but recruiters have long struggled to find enough qualified personnel in China to meet these needs.