Over the past couple of months AsianInvestor conducted a project to identify the leading protagonists in fund selection and distribution; you can find more background on the project by clicking here. Here we list the sixth and seventh gatekeepers on the list.
Chung Shaw Bee
Head of wealth management for Singapore and Asia
United Overseas Bank
Fund providers have identified Chung Shaw Bee as the person to know at United Overseas Bank. With more than 20 years’ experience in wealth management and distribution, she joined from Standard Chartered this July to head wealth management for Singapore and Asia. It was a role created especially for her.
She oversees UOB’s fund selection and investment advisory teams, with Gemma Tay, executive director responsible for fund due diligence and selection, now reporting to her. Chung lists her priorities as product leadership and institutionalising the bank’s advisory proposition.
While UOB operates an open-architecture policy, sources say it uses a lot of funds from UOB Asset Management. It has strong partnerships with large international houses such as BlackRock and Schroders.
Fund providers are hopeful that Chung will look to diversify UOB’s product suite, opening it up to new funds and managers. Chung, however, ignored AsianInvestor’s requests for an interview.
Asked what Chung looks for in funds, sources say her focus is on performance track record, fund company credentials and idea generation.
Prior to joining UOB, Chung was head of wealth management for Asean at Standard Chartered, where she was responsible for strategy, growth and product performance for the retail and private banks.
Fund providers have reason to be keen on UOB as a distributor of unit trust funds in Singapore. The bank’s Income Builder product suite has reportedly raised more than S$1 billion ($713 million) since launch in July last year. As of June 30, the firm had S$83 billion in assets under management, which includes its private bank business.
Head of fund selection
Twenty years in fund selection has given Pierre DeGagne an instinctive understanding of how to build a fund platform and find the middle ground between what clients demand and sustainable solutions.
He has run fund platforms for various banks and describes his approach to selection philosophically. There’s no box-ticking or quantitative monitoring of databases. It is 100% qualitative. He is also purposefully vague when it comes to outlining his process. “We take what we do very seriously,” he says.
Having joined DBS two years ago, DeGagne heads a regional selection team of four across the retail and private bank. DBS has about 300 funds on its platform and his team rates them based on a proprietary conviction system. Those it rates poorly are slated to be culled, while they add about 20 funds a year.
DeGagne says he has an open-door policy, but adds: “On first-cut I try not to spend more than 20 minutes listening to anyone about anything.”
He questions the standard of fund selection in Asia, which he feels is too driven by distribution and marketing concerns. He believes idea generation should be intuitively contrarian.
So the challenge is not to follow the trend for the sake of it, but to identify new ideas and how those could potentially be added to the mix. One area they are expanding in is alternatives. “The holy grail in the funds and private banking business is to move to a true advisory model," says Degagne, "and DBS is getting there."