Pictet Asset Management has established a renminbi fixed income capability in Hong Kong and is hiring another fund manager to that end, as it builds out its investment and trading setup in Asia.

The Swiss firm hired both a fund manager and bond trader for RMB bonds earlier this month, but declined to give details of their identities or previous companies.

Pictet AM is building up the team with an eye on joining the RMB qualified foreign institutional investor (RQFII) scheme, though it would not say whether it had submitted an application.   

The fund house has also moved its Greater China long/short investment team, comprising two managers, to Hong Kong from Geneva, in July. It also has hired a third manager to join the team in Hong Kong. The firm declined to give names of the individuals.

Meanwhile, Pictet AM is looking to add Vietnam to the 14 Asian markets it trades directly.

“The infrastructure is all set up, including the brokers. It’s a matter of the portfolio managers coming up with ideas to buy the stocks, and we’re ready to go,” said David Clark, Hong Kong-based head of Asian equities trading.

The firm currently accesses Vietnamese stocks through a fund managed by Ho Chi Minh-City based Dragon Capital.

Clark told AsianInvestor the firm is expanding the trading team in Asia with a view to boosting performance and helping source liquidity.

Last year, Pictet AM began relocating and hiring portfolio managers and traders to be based in the region, as it wants to locate its capabilities nearer the markets it is trading rather than manage its Asian funds out of Europe, he said.

The Asian equity trading team relocated to Hong Kong from Singapore in January 2013 to be closer to the portfolio managers managing the firm’s Greater China equity fund.

The firm first set up its Asian equity desk in Singapore in 2009 with two traders, including Clark. The team has since added a third and now serves all Pictet AM’s fund managers in Asia and executes overnight trading for the firm’s Geneva- and London-based managers.

This shift has changed the dynamics on the trading desk, said Clark. Though a few fund managers in Geneva used to get up during the night for live trading, mostly traders didn’t start interacting with the managers until 1pm Hong Kong time. 

“The main benefit [of moving to Asia] is being able to react to news and flows and sourcing liquidity,” noted Clark. “From my experience, placing an overnight order and picking the execution in the morning won’t get the best performance.

"It makes sense sitting in the region to react to market movements, take a view and talk to brokers and come up with a trading plan for that day.”

With regard to Pictet’s plans to start trading Vietnam, other firms have been making similar moves. Kingsmead Asset Management launched a small- and mid-cap Vietnam strategy last month, having hired a trio of analysts in Ho Chi Minh City, as reported.

Meanwhile, local firm VietFund Management recently went live with the country’s first onshore exchange-traded fund.

But certain fund managers don’t yet feel it’s time to access Vietnamese stocks. US firm Invesco, for example, still has zero allocation to the country.