RBC Dexia Investor Services has promoted Diana Senanayake to managing director in Singapore as it strives to drive Asia-Pacific growth and double the region’s proportion of global revenues.

A key to its strategy in the region is entering the markets in China, Taiwan and Korea. The firm, which is a 50:50 joint-venture between the Royal Bank of Canada and Dexia Bank, focuses on back-office administration, providing custody, transfer agency and fund administration.

Senanayake, who previously worked for RBC Dexia in multi-market relationship and development management based in Luxembourg, will be responsible for building the Singapore business and increasing its onshore and offshore client base.

She takes over the role from Dominique Draux who will now concentrate on running the firm’s operations centre in Kuala Lumpur, which will have close to 500 staff by the end of this year.

This appointment comes after RBC Dexia in October named Brent Reuter head of sales and distribution for Asia based in Hong Kong, while David Travers joined the firm about 18 months ago as a managing director for Australia.

“Diana is the final piece of the jigsaw [in Asia-Pacific],” says Tony Johnson, RBC Dexia’s global head of sales and distribution based in London. “Asia-Pacific will have a far greater voice within our organisation than maybe it has in the past.”

All of the above form part of a special advisory group for Asia-Pacific that is striving to double the firm’s revenues from the region to 10% of global sales, from 5% at present.

“What we need to do now is drive growth forward faster in the region,” says Johnson. “Managing directors are often seen as operators, whereas our philosophy is we want them to be business-builders. So it’s a shift in terms of what our expectations are of a managing director and country head.”

A key focus for the Asia team will be finding the right market entry strategy for China, Taiwan and Korea, confirms Johnson. “If we look at a lot of our success, it comes from combining an onshore and offshore strategy for our clients,” he adds.

“Asia is particularly important for that offshore link, so we are looking at each of those markets to determine the best way to establish a presence and build a sustainable business for onshore and offshore assets as those markets evolve.”

He describes Senanayake’s experience and understanding of working within the Ucits model in Luxembourg as a potentially crucial factor for Asian clients.

The appointment represents a return to Asia for Senanayake who describes herself as half Sri Lankan and half Indonesian. Despite regular visits to the region, however, she has been based in Europe since she was three years old.

In terms of growing regional revenues, Senanayake says initially she will be focused on leveraging existing relationships with managers in various parts of the world that are trying to expand in Asia.

She adds: “We have a mix of global and local asset managers in Singapore, so those are going to be key targets, and we are going to expand that list of managers.

“We have also noted that local asset managers are trying to expand their offshore business, and that is going to be an interesting area to look at. Plus we are going to target alternatives, although that list of targets is still under review.”

RBC Dexia Investor Services has been operating since January 2006 and covers 15 countries with strong bases in Canada and continental Europe. It has $2.7 trillion in client assets under administration globally.

It has five offices in Asia – Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney and Melbourne – and more than 800 people in the region, says Johnson.