UBS Asset Management saw two of its three-strong institutional sales desk in Sydney exit late last year, including the team head, at a time when the Swiss firm has recalibrated other parts of its Australian business.
Anne Flockart left as head of institutional sales for Australia in November, while James Duck moved on as director of institutional business development in October.
AsianInvestor understands that Duck was made redundant and is now considering his options. A UBS spokeswoman said Flockart had resigned, and the latter’s LinkedIn page says she is “exploring opportunities”.
Neither has been replaced as yet, said the spokeswoman, adding that the firm is looking to hire successors for them. AsianInvestor could not ascertain if either had anything else lined up.
Drew Fowler, who has been executive director of institutional business development at UBS AM for three years, remains on the team in Sydney. He joined the firm in January 2007.
The exits of Duck and Flockart preceded UBS AM’s December announcement that it was transferring management of its Australian equity funds to local firm Yarra Capital and of its Australian real estate investment trust (A-Reit) fund to real asset manager CBRE Clarion.
The spokeswoman said the departures were unrelated to the management-outsourcing of these funds.
But multiple sources familiar with UBS AM said it was likely the two developments were linked as part of an overall change in business direction in Australia.
UBS AM said in its December statement it had transferred the fund management “to offer its clients increased access to proven and sustainable investment expertise”.
However, it is unlikely the firm would have made such a move if the strategies had been sufficiently large and profitable.
One Hong Kong-based investment industry veteran said UBS AM may have looked to outsource the funds because it felt they were under-scale and wanted to focus more on its distribution business in Australia.
The equity and A-Reit funds held a total of $800 million in assets at the time of the outsourcing announcement, out of a total of $50 billion managed by UBS AM in Australia, according to an article in the Australian Financial Review.
The fund transfer was set to result in the departure of more than half a dozen analysts and portfolio managers from UBS AM’s equities unit, according to the same media report.
UBS did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation of the $800 million AUM figure or of the investment team departures. The request was sent after business hours, yesterday evening Sydney time.
The fund house still runs fixed-income investments in Australia under Anne Anderson.
“The [outsourcing] changes we made do not affect our domestic cash and diversified fixed income capabilities or affect the global capabilities distributed into Australia,” the UBS spokeswoman earlier confirmed:
Flockart started with UBS AM in July 2010 as head of client relationship management. Her career also includes a stint as head of fixed-income strategy at ABN Amro and several years as a portfolio manager at the Reserve Bank of Australia.
Duck had been with the fund house since July 2015, before which he worked for Challenger Financial Services Group, according to his LinkedIn page.
UBS AM has recently seen other senior departures elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region.
As of February 1, Rene Buehlmann left the post of head of Asia Pacific, with Raymond Yin taking those duties in addition to his own as head of China onshore.
And Michael Chen, formerly Greater China head of institutional business at UBS AM, moved on at the end of January to join alternatives giant Ares Capital.
Benno Klingenberg-Timm, head of Asia-Pacific sovereign clients at UBS AM, will take on some of Chen’s former responsibilities and clients. He is responsible for institutional business for Southeast Asia and also, as of February 1, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Yin has assumed Chen’s institutional coverage for China.