State Street Corporation has appointed Wai Kwong Seck from Singapore Exchange Limited as leader-in-waiting of its global services and global markets businesses in Asia-Pacific.

In an organised and potentially year-long transition, he will take over the role from incumbent Peter O’Neill, probably towards the end of 2012. O’Neill, pictured left, will subsequently transition into a new senior role with the firm, probably outside of Hong Kong although this is yet to be determined.

Seck officially joins State Street on September 1 as executive vice-president and general manager of its global services and global markets businesses in the region.

However, it is anticipated he will spend the first nine months in Boston followed by about four months in Europe (probably London) to familiarise himself with the organisation and build awareness of State Street’s culture and strategy.

Seck is chief financial officer of Singapore Exchange Limited, a position he relinquishes in mid-June. He previously held executive positions with DBS Bank, Lehman Brothers in Hong Kong and Singapore, the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, the Monetary Authority of Singapore in Singapore and New York, and the Investment Company of the People’s Republic of China.

O’Neill reveals that State Street started its global search for his successor about a year ago. “We wanted to make sure we got the right person,” he says. “Wai Kwong brings a number of proven leadership and management qualities.

“He also has deep knowledge of what drives business in the region, together with a high personal recognition factor and lots of very strong relationships with the investment community across the region.”

He points out it is State Street policy to have local people running its businesses, wherever possible. “I think it is the right model for any organisation operating in these markets,” he says. “I came in very open to staying in Asia for as long as needed until we found the right person.”

O’Neill has led an itinerant life since joining State Street in 1985. He started in London before moving to Luxembourg in the '90s, became branch manager in Tokyo and then relocated to Hong Kong and started the process of opening a Singapore office.

He returned to London in 1998 and ran the trading businesses in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, before taking on responsibility for the global services business in the UK, Middle East and Africa, as well as maintaining global markets responsibilities.

He was asked to return to Hong Kong for his current role over two years ago. “It has been very interesting to position the company to try and bring in talent to ensure we have people at the helm who can run these businesses and take advantage of opportunities that exist in this region. Wai Kwong is one of the best things I have been able to do for the company,” he notes.

Asked about his future role within the firm, he says it still needs to be defined. “I suspect it will be out of the region, but where, I don’t know.”

Seck will report initially into O’Neill. Post transition, the heads of custody and trading businesses across the region will report to Seck. He will then be responsible for State Street’s regional businesses covering global services (custody administration, fund accounting and investment management outsourcing) and global markets (trading and research).

Meanwhile K.K. Tse, who was head of State Street’s custody business for Asia Pacific, has relinquished his executive duties and is transitioning to a new role as senior adviser.

O’Neill confirms that has been ongoing for six months, noting Tse is deeply involved in his community work with Oxfam and wanted to pursue charitable and other interests while continuing to play an important role at the firm.