Principal Global Investors’ long-standing North Asia head of institutional business development has left the US fund house.

Helen Chang had been with PGI since early 2009, and her Hong Kong regulatory licence with the firm ended on November 29. The $735 billion fund house, part of Principal Financial Group, is seeking a replacement, said a spokeswoman.

“Principal is committed to serving our clients’ needs and remains focused on expanding our presence across Asia and Greater China,” she added.

AsianInvestor could not ascertain whether Chang had anything else lined up and could not reach her for comment. Hence it is not clear whether she left in order to a pursue a new role or opportunity or was laid off.

In October PGI eliminated the role of head of Asia, held at the time by Celestine Khoo. Kirk West, Sydney-based head of international (ex-US) business and clients, has since assumed leadership for the institutional sales teams and offices in the region.

Numerous other fund firms with larger regional teams have been moving to reduce headcount in what is a challenging environment – particularly for active asset managers, as fees have compressed, passive strategies have grown in popularity and regulations have tightened. Among those to have announced major layoffs in the past year or so are BNP Paribas, HSBC, Schroders and State Street Global Advisors.

Similarly, the trend for investment industry consolidation continued recently, with Franklin Templeton unveiling its acquisition of US rival Legg Mason last month. That followed the mergers of Aberdeen Asset Management with Standard Life and of Henderson Global Investors with Janus Capital in the past few years.

WEALTH APPOINTMENT

Separately, PGI hired William Yu from US bank Citi in September to replace Ricky Cheung on the wealth advisory team, a spokeswoman told AsianInvestor. At Citi Yu had been mutual funds and alternative investment product manager, according to his LinkedIn page.

Cheung’s regulatory licence with PGI had started in June 2018 and ended in June last year. He has since joined Julius Baer as Hong Kong-based director of intermediaries, a spokeswoman for the Swiss private bank, declining to provide further details.

Before joining PGI, Cheung had worked in investment advisory covering external asset managers at Credit Suisse and has also done stints at UK bank Standard Chartered and China’s ICBC, according to his LinkedIn page.