US fund house T. Rowe Price has poached Scott Keller from UBS Global Asset Management as its Asia-Pacific head of global investment services, with a view to expanding its sales team and broadening its range of distribution relationships in the region.

One remit for Keller is to put in place a team of up to 10 relationship managers across Asia, focusing in particular on Hong Kong and Singapore, says his new boss, Robert Higginbotham, head of global investment services based in London.

Singapore-based Keller's appointment is effective in July. It is understood that he will leave UBS in June, where he runs pan-Asia distribution.

Monita Chon, who joined UBS Global AM in Hong Kong in March as head of business development from ING Investment Management, has assumed Keller’s responsibilities.

Keller replaces Flemming Madsen, who has served in that same role for eight years. He will take on a new role as head of global financial intermediaries for global investment services based in the US.

With the aim of getting all the new relationship managers on board by the end of 2015, Keller’s team intends to establish relationships with large private banks and commercial banks, including the likes of Citi, HSBC and Standard Chartered.

T. Rowe has a relatively limited range of intermediary relationships in Hong Kong and Singapore, so Keller will focus on building relationships with the top six to 10 private banks and insurance firms. One approach will be to leverage relationships the firm has with intermediaries outside the region.

In Australia and Japan, T. Rowe already has relationships with the top dozen insurance firms and private banks in each market.

Keller will also market to institutions, including sovereign wealth funds and corporate pensions.

He is also tasked with looking at what local product would be necessary to support the range of fund passporting schemes being proposed in the region.

The various cross-border initiatives emerging in Asia mean it is increasingly important that T. Rowe “needs to be more local in Asia, and have more people on the ground”, Higginbotham tells AsianInvestor.

T. Rowe’s distribution team comprises 20 people in the region, where it has offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Sydney. They incorporate investment teams, trading and other supporting functions supported by 100 employees across all four offices.

In Asia, Higginbotham says the institutional and retail businesses each account for roughly half of the house's $17.4 billion in assets sourced from the region, by AsianInvestor numbers published in December. Globally, its AUM stood at $692 billion, according to its 2013 annual report.