Oppenheimer eager to broaden US-centric horizons

Broker-dealer Oppenheimer Investments Asia is busy bulking up sales, trading and wealth management coverage in the region to support its parent’s investment banking capabilities.
Oppenheimer eager to broaden US-centric horizons

Oppenheimer Investments Asia is striving to strengthen its sales, trading and wealth management coverage in the region to add geographic depth to its parent’s US-centric investment banking capabilities.

The broker-dealer, which is a division of investment bank Oppenheimer & Co, has added 15 equity and fixed-income sales staff in Asia over the past year, taking its regional tally to 28.

Just last week it named Evelyn Kang as director of equity sales, Satsuki Kaneko as director of fixed-income sales covering Japanese institutions, and Angela Wang joined its fixed-income sales team covering Chinese institutions.

“Oppenheimer has been a very US-centric firm, but obviously we see opportunities in Asia,” says Steve Bernstein, a veteran Citigroup banker who was appointed CEO of Oppenheimer Investments Asia earlier this year.

“We have been able to break into the China market over the last three years, during which time we have done 56 [equity capital market] deals. But if we are doing capital market deals [in Asia], we should be expanding that to sales and trading and wealth management.”

He notes that Oppenheimer & Co has a consulting group in the US advising clients on their wealth management strategy and helping to put portfolios together.

While the firm boasts about $70 billion in assets under management, it does not manage any assets in Asia. Asked if it had any plans to base portfolio managers or even traders in the region, Bernstein replies: “Maybe down the road, but there are no plans in the near term.

“The world is so global now. It is pretty easy now to sit anywhere [geographically] and transact business [with the appropriate licences], so as far as portfolio management or trading decisions are concerned, this can be done anywhere.”

Oppenheimer Investments Asia received an operating licence in Hong Kong this February to carry out securities business and corporate finance. The firm has a six-strong research team, split between Hong Kong and New York, and although its business centres around US equities, Bernstein notes that it also covers more than 60 Chinese mid-caps.

“My mandate is to build out the reach of our business lines – equity sales, fixed income sales and distribution, as well as building up our high-net-worth coverage,” says Bernstein, who lists his priority markets in Asia as Hong Kong, China, India, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

He is hoping to receive a type-4 licence in Hong Kong before the end of the year, which would enable its analysts to publish their research in the region, and says he is potentially looking at five or six more hires before the end of this year.

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