The CHF150 billion ($162 billion) Geneva-based Lombard Odier has appointed Vincent Duhamel as head of Asia-Pacific and Japan.

Duhamel will be based in Hong Kong and begins on March 7. He will be responsible for developing both the firm’s private-client and investment-management activities, but with a greater focus on the latter, according to Anne-Marie de Weck, managing partner in Geneva.

She says the firm has investment personnel already in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore (the latter dedicated just to the private-client side), but Lombard Odier will seek to bolster its investment capabilities.

It is also going to begin a focused push on building a team for business development, both for wholesale distributors as well as directly to institutional investors.

De Weck says the firm’s European business derives roughly one-third of its assets from institutional investors and distributors, and two-thirds from private clients. The firm’s Asia business today is primarily for high-net-worth individuals.

Duhamel says he initially got to know Lombard Odier Group – its full name is Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch – while still CEO of Sail Advisors in Hong Kong, the family office-cum-asset management group. He subsequently left Sail and continued the dialogue.

He says he is attracted to Lombard Odier’s business model because it is privately held among a group of partners, allowing it to avoid the product-pushing that can occur at listed financial services groups.

He also says Lombard Odier is capable of taking the long-term view necessary to see it gradually build an Asian franchise. Thirdly, he cites its size, which is big enough to offer a broad spread of products and solutions.

Its institutional investments group is strong on absolute-return products, Duhamel says, and he wants to help it develop that style in areas such as local-currency Asian bonds and equities – both for Asian prospects as well as for European clients increasingly keen to access the region.

Duhamel brings a rare combination of experiences, including his time running Sail as well as his previous institutional work at State Street Global Advisors – whose Asia business he put on the map with the Tracker Fund in 1999 – and Goldman Sachs Asset Management, where he had a brief stint covering sovereign clients.

De Weck explains that Duhamel will be one of only eight limited partners in the firm, and the only one based in Asia. He will coordinate with Bart van Leemput, who already runs the private-banking teams in Asia. And he will report to De Weck on the private-client side and Geneva-based Hubert Keller, who is responsible for the investment management business.