Weekly roundup of people news, Aug 2

China Life Franklin sees head of equities exit; Franklin Templeton replaces China equities head; Value Partners rings more changes at top; ICBC CS chief leaves for VanEck; BNPP AM hires Taiwan CEO; BlackRock's Asia retail marketing head exits, and more.
Weekly roundup of people news, Aug 2


Pan Xinglai, the former head of equities at China Life Franklin Asset Management, has left the Hong Kong-based joint venture firm.

Pan's licence with the Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission ended on July 26, having started in May 2016. 

China Life Franklin, a JV between China's biggest life insurer and US fund house Franklin Templeton, declined to comment on his departure or who would replace him.


Franklin Templeton Investments has made its own China-related personnel changes, appointing Michael Lai as senior vice president and portfolio manager for China equities. Lai will join the US fund firm on August 5.

He will be based in Hong Kong and report to Sukumar Rajah, senior managing director and director of portfolio management for Asia equities in the emerging markets team.

Lai will replace Eddie Chow who will leave Franklin Templeton after 25 years at the firm, effective September 1.

Robert Mumford

Lai joins Franklin Templeton from Zurich-based GAM Investments, where he was lead portfolio manager of the China equity strategy since its inception in 2007. He also headed GAM’s Asian equity team in Hong Kong. He has also worked for Trust Company of the West, BZW and Lehman Global Asset Management.

GAM has transferred management of the China and Asian equity funds to Rob Mumford as of June 24, according to a spokesman.

Mumford had joined the global EM equities team in December 2018 and was formerly head of Hong Kong and China research for Société Générale and Hong Kong head of alternative research at Macquarie Bank.


Hong Kong-based fund house Value Partners shuffled its leadership on July 26, following a period of upheaval.

Norman Ho

Au King Lun has stepped down as chief executive and executive director and became president in the senior management team, a member of the leadership committee and the chairman of the risk management committee. He will be responsible for the group’s corporate affairs, Value Partners said in a statement. 

Norman Ho, senior investment director and a 25-year veteran of the firm, re-joined the board as an executive director. As such, he will provide guidance on matters of strategy and operations, said a statement.

The CEO function will “in the meantime” be carried out by the leadership committee. This is currently comprised of Au, company founder Cheah Cheng Hye and Louis So (the latter two of whom are both co-chairman and co-chief investment officers).

A Value Partners spokeswoman declined to clarify what next steps the fund house may take.

These latest appointments come after Cheah and So became co-chairmen and co-CIOs in April this year and after the firm’s head of sales, Eric Poon, left in January.

The changes look to be an effort to draw a line under a few years of heavy staff turnover that started with a shakeup after Au arrived as CEO in December 2016.


Richard Tang

Van Eck, a New York-based fund manager, has poached Richard Tang from ICBC Credit Suisse Asset Management as chief executive of its China branch in Shanghai.

Reporting to Jan van Eck, global CEO for VanEck, Tang started in June and will lead business efforts in China. A spokesman said it was a newly created role, but declined to comment on how the business efforts had been dealt with previously.

Prior to joining VanEck, Tang spent the last six years as vice chairman and CEO of ICBC Credit Suisse AM. His Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission licence with the firm ended on June 3.

ICBC Credit Suisse declined to comment on the move.


BNP Paribas Asset Management has appointed Rick Chen as chief executive for Taiwan, effective August 1.

Rick Chen

He succeeds Christine Jih, who has decided to retire from the asset management industry, said a press release.

Chen has experience running asset managers in Taiwan, having previously been the Taiwan head of rival fund house Fidelity International. He left the firm in 2015, according to his LinkedIn profile. Chin Szu-yi is currently the head of Taiwan, a company spokeswoman said. 

A BNPP AM spokesman said Chen pursued personal interests between leaving Fidelity and joining BNPP AM. 

At BNP Paribas AM, Chen reports to Christian Bucaro, Singapore-based co-head of distribution for Asia Pacific, and to Ligia Torres, Asia-Pacific CEO based in Hong Kong.


UK property-and-casualty insurer Chubb has named Edward Kopp as senior vice president for accident and health for the Asia Pacific region, effective October 1.

Edward Kopp

Kopp will relocate to Singapore from Bangkok, where he was country president of Chubb’s general insurance business in Thailand. He will report to Paul McNamee, Asia-Pacific president, and to John Thompson, president for international accident and health.

Kopp will be replaced by Andrew Nisbet, the current senior vice president for accident and health for the UK and Ireland, Eurasia and Africa. Nisbet will relocate from London to Bangkok and report to Singapore-based Glen Browne, Chubb’s deputy president for Asia Pacific.


Doris Ma

The former Asia ex-Japan head of retail marketing at BlackRock has left the US funds giant and is moving to Canada for personal reasons.

Doris Ma’s Hong Kong regulatory licence with the firm ended on May 31, according to Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) records.

Ma had joined BlackRock in March 2015, according to her SFC record, before which she had worked for rival firms HSBC Global Asset Management and Invesco.

BlackRock declined to comment on her departure.


VP Bank has named Thomas Jost as its new head of intermediaries as of August 1 to bolster its external asset manager (EAM) unit, a core segment for the Liechtenstein-based private bank that is seeking to bulk up its presence in Asia

Thomas Jost

The role, which covers external and independent asset managers and multi-family offices, was previously held by Sylvain Gysler, a spokesman said. He declined to comment on Gysler's future. 

Jost remains in Singapore and reports to Reto Marx, the Singapore-based head of client business, said a spokesman. He was previously head of business development for independent asset managers (another label for EAMs) at Switzerland's EFG Private Bank.

The personnel realignment supports the further expansion of VP Bank Group's Asia strategy, the spokesman said. In July, VP Bank signed a letter of intent for strategic cooperation with China’s Hywin Wealth Management.


Zurich-based GAM has had appointed former BlackRock managing director Peter Sanderson as group chief executive, effective September 1.

He will focus on further simplifying the business and concentrating on areas of recognised expertise where GAM has a competitive edge to put the business back on a growth trajectory, according to a press release. Sanderson will be based in London but will spend a considerable amount of time in Zurich, a spokesman said.

Peter Sanderson

David Jacob, who has been interim group CEO since November 2018, will step down from that role on September 1 to become chairman as of October 1. He will stand for confirmation in this role by shareholders at GAM’s next annual general meeting in 2020.

Hugh Scott-Barrett, GAM's chairman since 2017, will step down on September 30 but will remain a member of the board until the 2020 AGM. 

Sanderson had spent some 12 years at BlackRock, which included him working as the chief operating officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at BlackRock Solutions, which provides services to other asset managers. BlackRock declined to comment. 

One of Sanderson's key goals will be to return momentum to the investment group after a difficult year. The fund house sacked absolute return bond fund manager Tim Haywood in February for alleged gross misconduct, after suspending him in July 2018. 

This article has been updated to reflect the incumbent in Thomas Jost's role at VP Bank.

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