PwC names new Asia AM head as Grome retires
PwC has promoted Justin Ong to be its new Asia-Pacific asset management leader to replace Robert Grome, who retired on May 1 after 31 years with the consulting firm, including 22 as a partner in the AM group.

Ong previously headed up PwC’s Singapore asset management practice and took up his new position on May 2. He has been with the firm for the past 22 years, and has worked in Singapore and London.

He tells AsianInvestor that he sees business opportunities in Asia, especially in respect of the region’s various proposed fund passporting schemes.

“True regionalisation is still far away, but the growth of activity in terms of cross-border distribution, new products and strategies being introduced to the Asian marketplace, as well as the emergence of local players in large domestic markets, means we need to also move with the marketplace,” he says.

While PwC has historically been strong on auditing and tax, Ong is looking to grow its asset management consulting practice.

Alternatives funds, in particular hedge and private equity, have been an important growth area for PwC in the region, Ong says, although he expects real estate to become an increasingly significant contributor. 

“Robert and I have been growing our team of asset management specialists over the past 24 months,” says Ong. “We've also created a new leadership team for our asset management practice across Asia-Pacific, which includes the key territories of Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.”

Grome had moved up the ranks to become head of Asia for PwC’s asset management industry practice in 2010. He says he expects to stay in Singapore and travel frequently to Hong Kong, and remain involved in the asset management industry in some capacity.

“The most significant time in my career was certainly the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and the global financial crisis in late 2008," Grome tells AsianInvestor. "In both cases a lot of clients got into real difficulties with a number of their fund products, and we helped many navigate through the crisis by ‘doing the right thing’ for their investors rather than adopting bad behaviours.

"The greatest story in Asia in my time has been the fantastic growth of the alternatives funds market and the emergence of some truly outstanding boutique fund houses in both the hedge and private equity spaces," he adds. "This trend will surely continue going forward.

Westpac appoints private bank Asia head
Australia’s Westpac Banking Corporation has appointed rival ANZ Private Bank’s Francis D'Souza as head of its private bank in Asia. He began earlier this month in Singapore, where the group has private banking operations in addition to its Hong Kong branch.

D’Souza reports to Damien MacRae, general manager for Westpac Premium and regionally to Bala Swaminathan, head of Asia at Westpac.

Prior to his new role, D’Souza spent five years at ANZ Private Bank, where he was most recently regional director. Previous to that, he was at Standard Chartered Bank for 23 years, where his last role was head of global customer value management and sales.

ANZ has replaced D'Souza with Kevin Ong, who has been named as head of Southeast Asia. He will take up the role on May 26. Based in Singapore, he will report to Manfred Liechti, ANZ’s managing director of global private banking.

Before joining ANZ, Ong was Singapore-based UOB Private Bank’s head of sales, business development and marketing. Previously he had worked at DBS, Citibank, ABN Amro and Banque Worms, according to an ANZ internal memo.

UOB had as of press time not responded to enquiries as to whether Ong had been replaced.

BNP Paribas names new asset and fund services chief
French firm BNP Paribas Securities Services has promoted Justin Burman as head of asset and fund services (AFS) in Australia.

He assumed the role on May 2, and is now responsible for market research and analysis, product line financial management and sales support, among other things.

Previously he was a product and strategy manager, prior to which he was the head of registry services at the French group. He has also previously worked at Australian fund house Colonial First State and now-defunct financial advisory firm Ipac. He joined BNP Paribas Securities Services (BNPP SS) in March 2004.

Meanwhile, Daryl Crich was made a chief administration officer. Previously he was interim Asia head of AFS for seven months. The permanent AFS role was newly created because of increasing client demand for this service and the need for coordination.

“Australian asset owners and fund managers are today facing more challenges than ever before; be it increased regulation – here and overseas – and the need to provide ever-increasing reporting for management and boards as well as improving their risk analysis and response,” says Peter Baker, BNPP SS’s Australia and New Zealand managing director.

The firm has A$305 billion ($285 billion) in assets under custody.

Liquidnet names new Asia COO
Dark pool operator Liquidnet has appointed Andrew Walton as Asia-Pacific chief operating officer in a newly created role, effective as of April 30.

Walton is in charge of the firm’s finance, administration functions, and manages member services and electronic trading systems across the region. Based in Hong Kong, he reports to Liquidnet’s head of Asia Pacific Lee Porter.

Prior to joining Liquidnet, Walton was head of market operations at Chi-X Australia and helped it launch in the Australian market in 2012.

Before that he had also worked at the Australian Securities Exchange and specialised in developing new products, including the implementation of a venue for matching equity block trades.

Overall, he has 15 years’ experience in project management and trading technology in the region, having also worked for global broker-dealers such as UBS and BNP Paribas.

Meanwhile, Liquidnet says it saw record trading volume for the first quarter for the region, with principal traded totalling $5.8 billion. This compares to $5.17 billion traded in Q2 2013, the previous record quarter for volumes. This was fuelled by a record quarter of $1.2 billion traded in Japan. Globally, principal traded was up 15% during the quarter to $136 billion.

Other people moves reported on AsianInvestor this week:

BOK names new head of reserve management