The pace of multi-asset hiring in Asia showed no signs of slowing last year as demand picked up for solutions specialists—those who can discuss customised mandates with clients rather than simply push existing products.

Salary rises of up 40% were being offered for executives to move, AsianInvestor has heard. Recruiters expect this to remain a major trend throughout 2018 too.

In recent years interest has steadily risen in dynamic asset allocation strategies incorporating stocks and bonds (and sometimes more niche instruments), with a focus on stable returns and regular income. Mandates for real return, absolute return and total return became ever more commonly requested. Traditional ‘balanced’ funds now seem hugely outdated.  

Many global asset managers operating in Asia—as well as numerous homegrown players—either expanded or started building multi-asset teams in the region last year.

New movers in Asia included US firm T. Rowe Price and Swiss house Pictet Asset Management. Andy Wong became the latter’s first Asia-based multi-asset specialist, while T. Rowe poached Thomas Poullaouec from State Street Global Advisors in September as its first Asia-Pacific head of multi-asset solutions. The list of other firms recruiting in this area was long and included Aberdeen, Allianz Global Investors, Fidelity, Fullerton Fund Management, Schroders and UBS Asset Management.  Asset owners, too, have been focusing more in-house resources on asset allocation.

The new CIO at Singapore insurer Great Eastern Life, Wee Ai Ning, is a multi-asset specialist, having worked at both hedge fund Tudor Capital and sovereign wealth fund GIC. She joined the insurer in September last year.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority in April named Martin Matsui as its sole head of asset allocation. The role had been combined with oversight of the direct investment division previously under Christopher Chan, who is now solely head of direct investment. Multi-asset investing looks well established in Asia—and set to gain further traction.

This is the penultimate part of a five-part series on key hiring trends in the industry. So far AsianInvestor has also highlighted the hunt for Chinese talent, the growing demand for technology expertise and a string of changes at the region's insurers.