UBS promotion of Shih an ‘acknowledgement of her success’
UBS has promoted Kathryn Shih to president of Asia Pacific alongside her role as Asia-Pacific head of wealth management, following Yoon Chi-Won’s decision to step down at the end of the year. The changes will take effect on January 1, 2016.

A spokeswoman said there were no plans at the moment to appoint another head of WM for Asia-Pacific. She declined to comment on why the decision had been made to combine the roles.

Steven Seow, Asia head of wealth management consulting at Mercer, saw the move as an acknowledgement of Shih’s success at UBS. “She has led the WM business to greater heights in recent years, and Asia Pacific is now a leading contributor not just to global wealth management revenue but to the overall revenue of UBS too,” he said.

Seow added that size has translated into economics of scale for the firm, helping it to generate sustainable profitability. “That is a challenge for most private banks now, especially the smaller ones,” he noted.

Shih has run UBS’s regional wealth business for the past 13 years out of a total of 29 years with the bank in various leadership roles, including Hong Kong CEO.

Yoon will leave the role he has held for nearly seven years to take a sabbatical, before returning to explore opportunities within the group.

Singapore CEO exits Value Partners
Chuck Ng has stepped down from his position as Singapore chief executive of Hong Kong-based fund house Value Partners. He left for personal reasons and is on gardening leave. AsianInvestor could not ascertain his next destination by press time.

Value Partners has proposed a senior member to succeed Ng and is awaiting regulatory approval for the appointment. In the meantime, Alastair Ding, sales director at Value Partners in Singapore, will continue to lead sales and marketing activities, which he had jointly led with Ng.

Ng joined Value Partners two years ago when the Singapore branch was being set up, as first reported by AsianInvestor

The firm declined to specify current headcount for the office, which comprises sales and investment staff. 

PE firm ShawKwei adds executive director
ShawKwei & Partners, a Hong Kong-based private equity firm focused on mid-market manufacturing and service companies, has hired Brian Lau as executive director in Hong Kong. He started in mid-September in a role created to add bench strength.

Lau will work with portfolio companies and provide transaction support. He has experience of running businesses in the technology and manufacturing sectors, reflecting a trend among PE firms to increase operational expertise for their target investment segments.

Lau was formerly a partner at boutique investment bank and advisory firm Prometheus, where he specialised in cross-border advisory and investment collaboration. Before that, he spent 19 years in executive roles at electronics manufacturers Celestica and Texas Instruments in Canada and Hong Kong. 

Manulife hires management duo in Singapore
Canadian insurer Manulife has made two additions to its leadership team in Singapore.

Neil Bowyer has been named chief bancassurance officer (CBO) of Manulife Singapore. In this newly created role, he is responsible for the development of bancassurance operations, including strategic development, distribution services, training and sales. He will oversee the partnership struck this year with Singapore’s DBS as well as other bank relationships.

Bowyer joined Manulife in August from UK insurer Aviva, here was head of bancassurance for Singapore. Before that, he was with UK insurer Prudential for 17 years.

At Manulife, bancassurance previously fell under the remit of John Curtis, former chief distribution officer of Manulife Singapore, said a spokeswoman. The new role of CBO was created in anticipation of more business resulting from the partnership with DBS.

Curtis now oversees other distribution channels such as agency, local financial advisory firms and international brokers as chief financial advisory officer.

In addition, Arijit Chakraborty joined Manulife Singapore in September from Zurich Insurance as chief legal and compliance officer. He replaces Nirmala Nair, who has decided to take a career break.

Chakraborty was previously general counsel at Zurich Insurance in Singapore. He started his career in the Lion City as a lawyer specialising in merger-and-acquisition transactions at state investment firm Temasek Holdings and has also held senior roles with other insurers.

Franklin Templeton makes Singapore sales appointment
Franklin Templeton Investments has appointed Christophe Vande Walle as assistant vice president for financial institutions coverage for Singapore and Southeast Asia. 

Currently sales director for Belgium and Luxembourg, he will relocate to Singapore in early 2016 and will be responsible for business development and client relationships for private banking distribution in Southeast Asia.

Vande Walle is filling a position that has been vacant for some time, to bring the wholesale fund distribution team headcount back up to six. He will report to Isabella Chan, head of wholesale business for Greater China and Southeast Asia. 

Before joining Franklin Templeton in 2011, Vande Walle held client relationship manager roles at BNP Paribas in Luxembourg and Fortis Investments and Euroclear Bank in Brussels. His position at Franklin Templeton in Brussels is in the process of being filled.

Vontobel AM adds client service executive
Swiss firm Vontobel Asset Management has appointed Joanna Poon as a client service executive in Hong Kong. The appointment is a part of a hiring drive to triple the firms number of clients in the region.

Joanna Poon started in the role on November 2, reporting to Ulrich Behm, Asia Pacific chief executive of Vontobel AM, which sources $12 billion from clients in the region. The role was created to free up capacity from the sales team.

Poon moved from Allianz Global Investors, where she worked for two years as associate director for managing client relations and sales support for institutions. She worked in a similar capacity at Baring Asset Management and Western Asset Management.

Poon has also held research and support roles at Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission and at Commercial Asia Economic.

Manulife Private Wealth opens Canada rep office in HK
Manulife Private Wealth has opened an office in Hong Kong to service high-net-worth customers, especially those from Hong Kong and China, who have made arrangements to move to Canada. It launched a representative office of Manulife Bank of Canada at the same time. 

Jennifer Chua, Asia head of Manulife Private Wealth, will oversee the offices as chief representative of Manulife Bank of Canada’s Hong Kong office.

Hong Kong securities regulator sets up women’s network
Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission has launched the SFC Women’s Network, with the aim of enhancing professional development and inspiring women for leadership roles at the regulatory body.

The regulator said the network provided a platform for staff, both female and male, to interact and participate in events, training and other activities that promoted interest in and knowledge of women’s leadership.

The SFC said it was the first statutory body in Hong Kong to set up a women’s group for staff. As of September 30, 68% of the commission’s staff were women and 47% of those at director grade and above were female.

“The Women’s Network is a forum for dealing with the specific hurdles which are often faced by women when moving up the career ladder and fulfilling their potential,” said Ashley Alder, SFC chief executive.

Offshore law firm Harneys opens in Shanghai
Offshore law firm Harneys has further expanded its Asia operations with a representative office in Shanghai. This is the firm’s fourth office in the region, after Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo.

Managing director Kristy Calvert will head the new branch, having previously led rival offshore law firm Ogier’s Shanghai representative office.

Having been in Shanghai for 10 years, she has also served as legal director for Rio Tinto for China/Asia and before that worked at law firms Weil Gotshal and Sidley Austin.

Harneys’ China practice offers offshore transactional services, covering investment funds, corporate and finance, and dispute resolution.

Asia managing partner Jonathan Culshaw said: “The mainland China market is a very interesting market for offshore right now, with local PRC firms transitioning into full-service international firms capable of managing more complex and cross-border work as lead counsel and linking up with other global firms to extend their reach.”

Other people news reported on AsianInvestor.net in the past week:

Robeco reveals multi-pronged Asia strategy

Noah Holdings creates CIO role

Julius Baer sets up Japan desk in Singapore

China arrest puts heat on private funds