Aberdeen-Standard pushes China strategy

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The newly-merged firm has plucked Amy Wang from Pioneer Investments to serve as Shanghai-based general manager for its Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise (WFOE) and senior representative for China.

Aberdeen-Standard pushes China strategy

Wang’s appointment comes right after last week’s announcement that the merger between Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life has been completed. The firm is now called Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI).

Wang, who will assume her role on 1 September, will report to Ian Macdonald, Hong Kong-based deputy head of Asia-Pacific and Alexis Ng, Singapore-based head of distribution for Asia-Pacific, according to a statement from the firm.

Wang’s appointment, the firm’s first signficant move in Asia after the merger, suggests that China will become a key investment focus.

“We are now keen to gain the necessary regulatory approvals, which will help us to develop Aberdeen Standard Investments’ onshore business over the next 10-20 years,” Macdonald said in the statement. 

In 2015, pre-merger, Aberdeen Asset Management established its investment management (IM) WFOE in Shanghai and was one of the first foreign firms to get such licence.

With an IM WFOE, foreign fund managers can launch China-focused onshore investment products targeting domestic high net worth and institutional investors. However, managers with an IM WFOE must first register with the Asset Management Association of China as a private securities fund manager and launch a product within six months.

With at least a dozen other foreign firms holding IM WFOE licences, only Fidelity and UBS Asset Management have taken the next step of obtaining a private fund management licence from AMAC.  

ASI intends to apply for a private fund management licence and to participate in the Qualified Domestic Limited Partnership (QDLP) programme, according to the statement.

QDLP is a different kind of WFOE, which allows a foreign asset manager to raise up to $100m of domestic capital from professional investors who want to invest in offshore products.

There are roughly 15 hedge funds, private equity firms and asset managers that were granted the QDLP quota, but issuance has been stopped since October after the government clamped down on capital leaving China.

Besides its WFOE, both Standard Life and Aberdeen AM had representative offices in China before they merged. Standard Life Investments has had a representative office in Beijing since 2002, while Aberdeen AM set up a representative office in Shanghai in 2008.

“[Wang’s] immediate priority will be to help bring together the two China teams following the merger of their UK parent companies,” the statement said.

Before joining ASI, Wang was Pioneer Investments’ institutional head for Greater China, a role she assumed in 2015. Before that, she was chief representative for Templeton International for 12 years.

Pioneer officially became part of Amundi last month and has since had a number of executive moves, as reported by the FSA Spy. Amundi appointed new regional heads – Xiaofeng Zhong as head for North Asia and Jack Lin as head of Southeast Asia. Giordano Lombardo, Group CEO and CIO of Pioneer Investments, is said to be leaving the firm. Jenny Sofian has also stepped down from her South Eastern leadership role.

FSA sought more information from Pioneer (Amundi) about Wang’s replacement, but the firm did not respond.

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