BMO appoints new Asia wealth head
Canada’s BMO Global Asset Management announced the appointment of Amit Prakash from BlackRock as its new head of wealth management products for Asia, based in Hong Kong.

Joining in late August, he has responsibility for wealth and investment teams in Beijing and Hong Kong covering product development and marketing for BMO entities, businesses and strategic partners in Asia.

He came in to replace Chi Lee, who quit to join Barclays Wealth as head of active advisory and investment solutions for North Asia.

Prakash reports to Kevin Gopaul, chief investment officer for ETF and mutual funds, and Albert Yu, Asia chief executive for BMO Financial Group, the asset management firm’s parent.

Most recently Prakash led the Asia product development team of BlackRock’s iShares business based in Singapore.

BMO Global Asset Management is the brand name for affiliated entities of BMO Financial Group, which managed more than $105 billion in AUM as at the end of July. It provides trust, custody, securities lending, investment management and retirement plan services.

RBC WM expands Singapore trust services
Canada’s RBC Wealth Management announced the appointment of Lionel Choi as private client director in its recently established Singapore trust office.

He started in July and is responsible for managing the financial and estate planning interests of private clients in Asia-Pacific. His role also encompasses business development in Singapore and internationally. He reports to Hilary May, managing director of RBC Trust Company.

RBC’s announcement comes as its trust services business marked its first anniversary in July. The team is four-strong, with a spokesman confirming there will be more hires in the near future.

Most recently Choi was a trust adviser at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where he established and managed offshore wealth management structures. He began his career as a lawyer.

Centuria Capital sets up Asia rep office
Fund manager Centuria Capital has opened a representative office in Singapore – its first ex-Australia – and appointed Chong Woon Pin from Lend Lease to run it as Asia managing director.

Chong will be responsible developing the group’s Asia-Pacific platform, raising equity from Asian institutional investors to invest in Australian property. He will also seek to tap Australian capital to invest offshore alongside Centuria’s balance sheet.

It comes as the ASX-listed firm, which has $2 billion under management, says it is talking to “a large number” of Asian institutional investors about investing in Australian property.

Chong will report to Jason Huljich, who says in a statement: “Centuria’s decision to open a representative office in Singapore will provide it with greater access to Asian investors which are in line with its business growth strategy.”

Huljich argues that they see the Australian market as a safe haven with a transparent property sector. “As there are limited onshore buyers for properties in the $80 million+ range, there are a significant number of current opportunities in the market,” he says.

Chong is a veteran of the Asia-Pacific real estate market with more than 17 years’ experience. Previously he worked as Asia head of equity and capital transactions at Lend Lese. He was also director of regional investment, business development and advisory at Colliers International.

SocGen hires global private banking COO
Société Générale announced the appointment of Jean-Pierre Flais as chief operating officer for its global private banking division, effective immediately.

Based in Paris, Flais also becomes a member of the executive committee. He is responsible for supervising group resources, including IT and operations and oversees operations across 18 markets globally, including its Asia presence in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.

He reports to Jean-François Mazaud and Patrick Folléa, head and deputy head of private banking, respectively.

Flais’ current position was previously held by Patrick Follier in conjunction with his role as deputy CEO of the bank. A spokeswoman for the bank says Flais is the first to be specifically hired for the COO role globally for the private bank.

Previously he was deputy chief executive officer of Société Générale Private Banking Hambros, based in London. The bank says his successor will be announced in due course.

In Hong Kong, SocGen’s private banking arm was recently reprimanded by regulator SFC for failing to disclose certain fees and charges in secondary market transactions. It agreed to repay $11 million to affected customers and has had to review its controls, systems and procedures.

The French bank’s private banking division had €85.6 billion ($111 billion) in AUM globally as at the end of June this year.

Cohen & Steers adds Asia property specialist
Property investor Cohen & Steers announced the appointment of William Leung as senior vice-president and portfolio manager for the group’s real estate securities team.

Leung, who started in the newly created position on October 1, also co-heads the firm’s Asia Pacific investment team with Luke Sullivan based in Hong Kong. They both report to New York-based Jon Cheigh, head of the global real estate team.

Previously Leung worked for 12 years as a director, portfolio manager and head of Asian real estate securities at RREEF Real Estate, the property investment arm of Deutsche Bank’s asset management division.

Asked if further hires were on the horizon, a spokesman for Cohen & Steers notes an analyst is due to join the group in December focusing on the Australian market.

Cohen & Steers has $4.1 billion AUM in Asia-Pacific listed real estate securities, out of the global AUM of $44.9 billion.

Heitman names global macro strategy analyst
US-based property firm Heitman announced the appointment of David Stubbs as global macro strategy analyst. Based in London, he reports to managing director Mark Abramson.

The manager has $26 billion in assets invested in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, with clients including institutions, pension plans, endowments, foundations and individuals.

Stubbs was most recently at research firm Roubini Global Economics, where he worked in both London and New York as an asset allocation strategist. He was previously an emerging market economist to the United Nations.

Heitman opened an office in Tokyo in 2005 to provide investment management services to Asian institutions and individuals. In 2010 it expanded its global real estate securities platform by bringing the Asia-Pacific investments team in-house and opening an office in Melbourne.

Other moves reported by AsianInvestor in the past week:

Bailey to exit ING IM as sale process stalls

VP Bank denies Asia pull-back rumours

Standard Life to provide unit-linked in Singapore

BNY Mellon enters Asia intermediary business

Investec AM opens Singapore office in Asia push