Kevin Smith, who established Standard Life Investments' Hong Kong office in 2000, has left the firm to join ABN AMRO Asset Management in London, where he will sell its equities capabilities to global clients.

James Aird will take the reins as acting CEO for SLI in Hong Kong. He arrived from Edinburgh last week. He says the firm is using a recruitment firm to find a permanent CEO and will interview candidates both from Hong Kong and across the region.

Aird headed the firm's business development and marketing from its Edinburgh headquarters, as well as took responsibility for SLI's asset management joint venture in India with HDFC Bank.

While in Hong Kong he will retain the India JV role at HDFC Asset Management, which is run by managing director Miland Barve in Mumbai, but his main job is to find Smith's long-term replacement and continue the firm's business development. He expects to stay in Hong Kong until mid-2006, although he will not leave until Smith's successor is integrated into the firm's culture.

Smith founded the office of six from scratch. Since then SLI has established distribution arrangements in Taiwan and Korea, as well as a rep office in Beijing, where it is in talks with China Fund Management regarding cooperative relations. It has notched some success winning specialist mandates from Asian institutions in areas such as UK equities and recently private equity. The firm manages $3 billion of assets out of Hong Kong.