Schroders will look to incoming Asian fixed-income head Rajeev de Mello to leverage more of the firm’s global capabilities for the Asian market and eventually to oversee a pure research function based in the region.

As exclusively reported by AsianInvestor yesterday, de Mello will join the UK asset manager in Singapore on July 1, replacing How Phuang-Goh, who will retire from the industry in September to spend more time with his family after 17 years at the firm.

De Mello quit this month as Western Asset Management’s country head for Singapore, senior investment officer and member of the global investment strategy committee.

According to Karl Dasher, Schroders’ global head of fixed income, de Mello will have two primary objectives in his new role: to deliver superior investment performance from local Asian markets, and to leverage the firm’s global resources to bring more global capabilities to Asia.

“He [De Mello] will be a key person in driving more of that, having more of an Asian face and execution capability and leveraging the global portfolios into the Asia market,” Dasher tells AsianInvestor.

He also expects de Mello over the longer term to co-locate some of Schroders’ global investment research capabilities, located in New York and London, into Asia.

“There are technical skills and time-zone advantages in Asia that we would like to leverage more broadly, but I don’t want to put a date on it,” adds Dasher. “It really comes down to when we feel comfortable that Rajeev has the management capacity to extend from delivering a superior investment performance on our Asian mandates.

“But that was a key attraction to this role. It is a bigger total management opportunity in the long run.”

Dasher sees Schroders’ fixed income capabilities in the region evolving from the provision of Asian local bond management to a more proactive role in the way global portfolios are managed for Asian investors.

“That is something we have been hearing consistently as we go through the region, that a lot of Asian investors are uncomfortable with what they perceive as a higher US or European bias to global mandates,” explains Dasher.

“They would like to have a more balanced global perspective, not just local mandates, but global mandates. That is something we will ask Rajeev to lead once we are ready.”

Asked whether de Mello would come in with a hiring mandate, Dasher points out that not only is the firm happy with the team it has in place, but that de Mello already has a good understanding of the resources Schroders has, having been a keen competitor up to now.

“He does not view it as having to come in and do a house-cleaning exercise, but a building exercise. Over the course of the next one to three years we will continue building out our resources in the region to meet our growth and execution plans.”

De Mello will be in charge of about 20 fixed-income staff in the region. That includes portfolio managers in Taipei, Korea and Jakarta who won’t report directly to him, although he will be overseeing their process holistically.

Dasher notes that he has known de Mello in a professional capacity for the past eight years. “We talked quietly to some other candidates in the market and had some very high quality interest in the organisation, but Rajeev was the candidate that ended up being the best fit for us.”

The firm had £201.4 billion ($329 billion) in overall global AUM as of March 31 this year, of which $73 billion was sourced from Asia-Pacific as at the end of 2010, by AsianInvestor numbers.