Old Mutual Global Investors, a £22 billion ($34 billion) fund manager based in London, will continue its expansion by adding to its global equity, emerging market debt and Japanese investment capabilities.

Richard Buxton, chief executive, said the firm has gone from nothing in Asia to having a growing business in managing equities over the past 18 months. It is now looking to add dedicated people to its distribution effort in the region and, more broadly, to make Asia a substantial part of its business. Buxton assumed the CEO role two years ago and the firm has been reshuffling its executive team.

The asset manager has added a variety of capabilities in recent years, diversifying from its traditional business of active UK equities. It has acquired teams for European equities and global fixed income; a quantitative, absolute-return equity strategy for both US and global stocks; and a multi-asset solution sold via another wealth platform, UK-based Quilter Cheviot, which Omgi recently acquired and integrated at the start of 2015.

Omgi has also brought on board a small team in Hong Kong to run Asian and Greater China equities. Buxton would like to beef up an existing but small EM debt capability and provide a fundamentally driven global equity strategy to complement the quant offering. “Global strategies work best when run by a dedicated team rather than by merging the regional components,” he said.

Although Japan had been viewed as a longer-term target, Buxton said the firm is in talks with an equity investment professional who may provide the expertise to enable the firm to launch products.

Given the many moving parts, Buxton declined to put firm numbers on the scale of where the Asia business should be. But he indicated he would expect Asia-based clients to account for around 25% of assets under management in the next five years or so. He declined to break out the current AUM segments, but said Asia was a small piece of the business today.

Today the region's clientele comes mainly from retail segments in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. Capital Gateway Securities is Omgi’s master agent distributor in Taiwan.

Elsewhere the firm sells its funds via its parent, Old Mutual Wealth, which has an office in Singapore. Old Mutual Wealth sells both in-house and third-party products. Omgi currently services the Singapore platform from Hong Kong or London, but Buxton said a dedicated client-servicing team based in the Lion City is a priority.

Meanwhile, Omgi has recently begun targeting institutional investors, both in Europe and in Asia; the firm has already signed up some Korean institutions, Buxton said. He called this a natural evolution from selling and servicing high-end retail distributors.

Buxton joined Omgi four years ago to run UK equity portfolios. With over two decades of manager experience at Baring Asset Management and Schroder Investment Management, he was considered a star manager hire.

Given the size and depth of the UK equity team at Omgi, and the fact that Buxton’s own investment style is for long-term holdings of a concentrated portfolio, he has been able to retain the PM job while also serving as CEO.

Omgi has no intention to go into the passive space. “We believe in active management,” he said. “You need great product to resist the downward pressure in fees.”

The biggest challenge, said Buxton, is getting the right people on board. The fun part of the job? “We’re so much smaller than Schroders, but we’re growing something.”