Japanese bank Nomura has lured Johnny Heng from Coutts as chief investment officer of its Asia ex-Japan wealth business, unifying its advisory team across Hong Kong and Singapore under one head.

Heng started in the newly created role in Singapore yesterday, with responsibility for investment advisory and portfolio management across asset classes.

This is the first time Nomura WM has had a CIO office. Its investment advisory team was previously split into two independently functioning centres in Hong Kong and Singapore. 

The advisory team comprises nine people across the two hubs. Amanda Chen, deputy head of wealth management for Asia ex-Japan, said Heng would decide how he wished to reorganise the team and whether to hire additional staff.

“He [Heng] is a very experienced CIO and he will decide how to lead the team and deliver solutions,” said Chen. “We are not as big on alternatives as we would like to be. We are hoping he can set up the team to have a focus that includes alternative and value-based investing.

“Hong Kong and Singapore are the two important centres for us. We will continue to build out our presence to cover North and Southeast Asia.”

Chen said Nomura WM would now focus on expanding its sales team to increase penetration across the region. It has about 75 bankers – 45 in Singapore and 30 in Hong Kong – out of close to 200 staff in wealth management outside Japan.

The business has split its investment advisory and product solutions teams, with the former under Heng focused on long-term investing and the latter under Lee Chee Pin concentrating on tactical investing.

Lee reports to Chen and Nobuhiro Sano, Nomura’s head of wealth management for Asia ex-Japan. He focuses on trading and execution for equities, fixed income and structured products and works closely with the global capital markets team.

AsianInvestor has previously reported that Nomura’s wealth management unit is looking to bring on board a senior fund selector, as reported. It is understood this appointment will be announced before the end of this year. 

The new hire will report to Heng and run fund selection and discretionary portfolio management. The remit is to make Nomura WM’s funds offering more comprehensive.

Nomura set up its wealth division for Asia ex-Japan in June last year and has been building its product platform and senior team. Chen arrived in January from Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, as reported.

Nomura has total AUM of $1 trillion in Asia under the retail division, which includes wealth management, for which it declines to break out figures separately. The asset management business had $319 billion in AUM at the end of last year, by AsianInvestor data.

At UK-based Coutts, Heng had worked as Asia head of investment services for three years, and also served as deputy chairman of South Asia for the Coutts Institute.

He has also worked as head of investment consulting at Credit Suisse's private bank. He was also a member of the management investment committee at the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, where he held positions including global head of equities trading and head of quantitative equities.

A spokesperson for Coutts confirmed that Heng left the bank in August but declined to comment further. It comes as Coutts is in the process of transitioning its business to Union Bancaire Privée, following the agreement of a merger with the Swiss firm.