James Leung has joined SEI Investments in Hong Kong as client portfolio manager, a position that exists in the firmÆs US, European and other international locations but is new to Asia.

He has worked for four years at GAM in Hong Kong as a portfolio manager for absolute-return strategies in both traditional and alternative asset classes. Prior to that he managed institutional money at HSBC Investments and Axa Investment Management.

ôThis new role serves as a link between SEIÆs investment team and our clients,ö Leung explains. He says the traditional business model for a fund manager is to have a sales person or account executive interface with clients and the fund managers to carry out the investment work. The client portfolio manager role gives clients access to someone who is both there to provide service but who also has direct experience with investment management theory, investment style, processes and multiple asset classes.

In addition, LeungÆs role is to help market not only SEIÆs manager-of-managers capability but other services and strategies such as asset-liability management. And there is a reverse function of understanding what institutional and high-net-worth clients want or need, and pushing the necessary innovation within SEI to try to meet that.

Finally he sees his role as continuing client education and suggesting new solutions to old problems. For example, Leung says a typical pension fund in Hong Kong has been shifting asset allocation away from equities toward fixed income, which usually means buying more bonds. But SEI has worked with one local client to introduce enhanced cash products and an equity strategy that used untraditional management styles to produce a balanced portfolio with greater nuances of risk and return. SEI is using this example to showcase its ideas to other investors in the region.