Chicago-based Northern Trust has created a new position in response to demand from institutional clients in North Asia, and Pamela Yuen has arrived from HSBC to fill it. As North Asia sales director for corporate and institutional services, she reports to Rohan Singh, Asia-Pacific head of asset servicing sales.
Having started in Hong Kong on July 12, Yuen works alongside Kevin Hardy, Asia-Pacific head of Northern Trust, and Madhu Gayer, Asia-Pacific head of investment risk.
She will be responsible for business development in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Korea. Singapore-based Singh says one of Yuen's briefs will be to evaluate whether the time is right for Northern Trust to establish offices in Korea and Taiwan.
Yuen comes to Northern Trust with 15 years' experience in asset servicing under her belt, most recently as head of relationship management for Asia-Pacific at HSBC, where her official departure date was July 7.
As the senior executive responsible for expanding business in North Asia for Northern Trust, Yuen will also work closely with Michael Wu, who is head of the company's Beijing office. It is hoped Yuen will help attract new custody mandates in China such as the one for National Council for Social Security Fund (NCSSF), for which Northern Trust has been acting as custodian since 2006.
In April, that fund's AUM was $130 billion and the chairman of the NCSSF, Dai Xianglong, predicts it will reach more than double that figure by 2015.
He has also been reported to have said the NCSSF is ready to invest in unlisted companies and private-equity funds. Dai, a former central bank governor, says China needs not only to attract foreign investment, but also to expand channels for overseas investment as the country's foreign exchange reserves are now $2.4 trillion.
Singh says there are various “healthy segments” of the Chinese custody market being targeted by Northern Trust: long-term sovereign entities such as NCSSF, insurance companies and QDII funds.
On QDIIs, Singh says he is not seeing the same explosion in this area as two years ago, but China is continuing to expand its fund industry overall. “Savings rates are high, the fund industry is becoming increasingly sophisticated and there is a rising portion of investments being allocated to offshore markets,” he adds.
In addition to NCSSF, several more heavy-duty China clients have been added to Northern Trust's growing Asian book, says Singh, but they did not wish details of their contracts to be released.
He is hopeful that Northern Trust will benefit from Yuen’s established track record in guiding institutional investors on global custody matters, as they allocate more assets to foreign-currency markets, he says.
Yuen had been at HSBC since 2006, first as deputy head of sales for Asia-Pacific and then head of relationship management for Asia-Pacific -- in the latter role, she led business development in China.
Her particular areas of responsibility were sovereign wealth funds and QDIIs. Prior to working at HSBC, she was head of operations for First State Investments in Hong Kong, although she started her career at HSBC and has also had stints at Citi, Deutsche Bank and ABN Amro Asset Management.
Northern Trust's Asia-Pacific assets under custody grew by 70% from $150 billion in December 2008 to $263 billion in December 2009. At press time, no more recent figures were available.