State Street has seen another leadership executive depart in Asia amid a global staff-cutting drive, in a move that has further reduced its institutional coverage out of Hong Kong.

Kevin Wong has left his role as head of sector solutions for Asia Pacific at the US asset management and custody giant. He had led business development across State Street’s Asia-Pacific businesses – asset servicing, asset management, investment research and trading – covering institutional investors and fund managers.

Kevin Wong

Wong left in January to pursue other opportunities and has been replaced internally by Sydney-based Jason Rich, said a State Street spokeswoman. Rich will remain Asia-Pacific head of asset owners and official institutions in the interim, she added.

Wong had advised asset owners across the region, such as insurance firms and pension funds, on their investment operating models, middle-office set-ups and related functions, among other things. He had sought to help them adapt as they diversified their portfolios both geographically and across different asset types.

Wong's departure came around the same time as State Street announced that of his former boss, Seck Wai-Kwong, from his role as Asia-Pacific chief executive. The spokeswoman said the two were not connected.

Seck was replaced by Ian Martin, former Asia-Pacific head of global services. In February, Seck took over as CEO of Prudential-owned Eastspring Investments in Singapore. 

Another January departure from State Street's Hong Kong-based client coverage team was Charles Kwok. He had been Asia ex-Japan head of intermediaries at State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), the group's fund management arm, according to his LinkedIn page. His duties were absorbed by members of the Asia business team, a spokeswoman said.
Jason Rich

Meanwhile, Wong is believed to be taking a break and exploring new opportunities, but he could not be reached for comment. He joined State Street in 2014 from Citibank, where he was China head of securities and fund services.

GLOBAL LAYOFFS

The exits of Kwok, Seck and Wong came as State Street announced on January 18 that it was removing 1,500 employees in a push to cut costs and automate more of its business. This equates to around 6% of its workforce, and will include 15% of senior management, the firm said at the time. 

Chief executive Ronald O’Hanley, who took over as CEO in January, is moving to reorganise the group, whose share price plunged 36% during last year to $63.48 as of December 28. It has since recovered a little to close at $68.10 on March 8.

The group is a custodian bank with $31 trillion of assets under administration. Its fund management arm, SSGA, saw a drop of 9.7% in its assets under management last year amid a global equity rout, leaving it with $2.51 trillion as of end-2018. 

Other large fund houses, such as BlackRock and Legg Mason, have also recently set out plans to reduce headcount amid a challenging environment, particularly for active managers. 

New York-based BlackRock said in January it would cut 500 staff, or around 3% of its employees. Baltimore-headquartered Legg Mason did not put a number on the number of layoffs, while CEO Joe Sullivan said in February it would also use technology to help bring down costs.