State Street Global Advisors’ heads of Asia ex-Japan and Southeast Asia have left their posts as part of a new round of staff cuts and following reports that the passive funds giant may be sold by its parent, Boston-based State Street Corp, AsianInvestor can reveal.

“June Wong and James Ong have moved on from their roles of head of Asia ex-Japan and head of Southeast Asia global institutional group at State Street Global Advisors [SSGA], respectively,” a spokeswoman confirmed by email.

Kevin Anderson:
New Asia chief

The two executives are still working for State Street and exploring other opportunities within the firm, she added. However, Wong's regulatory licence with the company ended on January 7.

Kevin Anderson has now been appointed as Hong Kong-based head of Asia at SSGA in addition to his role as head of investments for Asia Pacific. Ng Kheng Siang has become the legal entity head for the Singapore business in addition to his role as head of fixed income for Asia Pacific.

The spokeswoman declined to say whether Ong would be replaced as head of the Southeast Asia institutional group, noting only that SSGA's regional institutional distribution teams will now report to James MacNevin, head of Asia Pacific at SSGA. They were previously overseen by Ong and Wong.

CUTTING ROLES

The $3.15 trillion asset manager has made the changes as part of a move to eliminate "some select roles", according to the spokeswoman. 

June Wong

Parent company State Street had previously suspended headcount reductions from the onset of Covid pandemic in February 2020 until the end of last year, she added. 

"As we move into 2021, we know that our company will need to further adapt to continue to provide value and drive efficiencies on behalf of our clients," the spokeswoman said. "As a result of operating model changes, business process changes and automation, we are planning for the elimination of some select roles.

"However, we also anticipate adding many new roles across the organisation in support of our strategic growth goals, and will continue to focus on redeploying our current employees into those new roles."

The spokeswoman declined to say how many positions would be eliminated or how many staff SSGA had in Asia Pacific.

SSGA SALE COMING?

Industry sources familiar with the matter said SSGA began the latest round of cuts in January, after previously slimming its regional staff in early 2019. One source suggested that State Street may have embarked on the latest reductions as part of an effort to “prune” the business ahead of any potential sale.

James Ong

Bloomberg reported in December that State Street was exploring options for selling SSGA, including a merger with a competitor, citing sources familiar with the matter.

The spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the unit was up for sale.

Industry veteran Wong had joined SSGA in Hong Kong as Asia ex-Japan chief five years ago, while Ong had started with the firm as head of Southeast Asia client relationships in November 2016, reporting to Wong. Both have years of experience covering institutional investors.

Before joining SSGA, Wong had worked at fund house Columbia Threadneedle from 2011 to 2016, in roles including vice chairman for Asia Pacific, Hong Kong chief executive and co-head of institutional sales for North Asia.

Ong was formerly a client director looking after Southeast Asian institutions at HSBC Global Asset Management and on the institutional team at Singapore’s UOB Asset Management.