Ian Simmonds, regional managing director at Principal Global Investors in Singapore, is leaving the firm to get his MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Today (Friday) is his last day with the firm after three years in the role. He has served a total of eight years at PGI, initially in his native Australia with BT Funds Management in Sydney.

Simmonds's tenure witnessed rapid growth for his role, which initially was simply to run business development for Singapore. In quick succession he was then given responsibility for Hong Kong, became involved in the pensions business as well, and joined the board of directors of PGI's joint venture in Malaysia. He reported to Richard Hibbs, global head of sales and marketing in Des Moines, Iowa, the firm's headquarters.

With his departure, the firm is going to split his duties. Hazel McNeilage, who was running strategic business development in Sydney since joining the firm in 2001, is moving to Singapore to become head of PGI's Asian business. She arrives in August and will report to Michael Migro, COO in New York. Her responsibilities will include looking after the firm's JVs in Malaysia and India, and help develop a presence in China.

Prior to joining Principal (then BT Funds), McNeilage worked at Towers Perrin for 14 years in a variety of roles, including asset consulting for Asia-Pacific and Australia.

The institutional sales function will be separated, so as to allow whoever inherits the role to be more aggressive, and report to Hibbs. However, no successor has been named, and the firm is now combing Singapore in the hopes of finding a local to take the role, with the expectation that a Singaporean will bring a long-term commitment. But the firm is not ruling out placing an expat in the position.

In addition, PGI is adding an equities fund manager to Singapore. A fund manager from Des Moines is transferring soon, although the firm isn't ready to announce the person's name. PGI manages about $4 billion of emerging market assets, about half of which are Asian. There will be two fund managers responsible for this, one in Singapore and the other retained in Des Moines.

The firm already has several analysts in Singapore but it was felt a local fund manager would provide value by trading during Asian market hours. It is likely to add an Asian equities trading position as well.