The former director of institutional business at China AMC, Guo Shuqiang, has officially been appointed general manager of Tian Hong Asset Management following regulatory clearance.

While Guo actually joined the company in May, the announcement was only made last Friday in accordance with a required three-month silence period. His initial task has been to rebuild and reorganise the Tianjin-based firm’s team, which has witnessed a manager exodus this year.

Tian Hong AM is one of the smallest fund managers in China. During the first half of this year its AUM dropped to Rmb6.3 billion ($987 million), from Rmb7.5 billion at the end of 2010.

The company, which was established in 2004, manages just six funds, although it has announced plans to launch a new fixed-income fund later this year. 

Tian Hong AM notes that Guo has helped the company to expand its research and investment team to 25 staff and the sales and marketing team to more than 30 since his arrival.

His hires include Zhou Keyan from China AMC to lead the equity investment department, Chen Gang from China Life Asset Management as head of fixed income, and Zhou Xiaoming from Harvest as chief marketing officer.

It comes after the general manager, Hu Min, quit earlier this year. The chief investment officer, deputy CIO, two fund managers and five research analysts then followed.

In response, Tian Hong mounted an aggressive recruitment campaign, advertising various positions on its website including portfolio managers, analysts, sales managers, e-commerce supervisor, customer service representative, risk management officer, IT support and fund accountant. The company is also inviting fresh graduates to join as interns.

As a founding member of China AMC, Guo has served in a number of senior roles since 1998 including head of trading, portfolio manager, research director, director of institutional business and assistant to general manager.

According to a survey of senior executives at 30 joint-venture FMCs in China carried out by PwC this year, recruiting and retaining staff remains the top priority.

Staff turnover has long-plagued China’s fund management industry, but this year the problem has become accentuated: 15 fund management firms – almost a quarter of the total – experienced a change of general manager.

Last month, Xiao Feng resigned as general manager of Bosera FMC, while in June, Cheng Baoliang departed China Merchant FMC. Other firms that have lost their general manager include Galaxy, Great Wall, GTJA Allianz, Franklin Templeton Sealand, Changsheng, SWU MU, Minsheng Royal FMC.

The fight for senior executives could be set to intensify as the China Securities Regulatory Commission has quickened its approvals process for new FMCs this year.

Some general manager positions have remained vacant for a long time. Minsheng Royal FMC, for instance, is still searching for a replacement for Zhang Jiabin, who joined KBC Goldstate as general manager in March.