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JOHCM hunts for investment talent in Asia expansion

After a top management reshuffle, the UK-based boutique manager now intends to focus on expanding in Asia and the US, according to Gavin Rochussen, group executive for international business at BT Investment Management, which owns JOHCM.

Rochussen, the former group CEO, this month assumed his new role. He is responsible for BTIM’s growth strategy ex-Australia, with a strong focus on Asia and the US. In particular, he identifies new investment teams.

The firm’s business model gives individual fund managers free reign on strategy, he told FSA on a recent trip to Singapore. There is no chief investment officer to impose direction.

Rochussen plans to spend considerable time studying fund management rankings, looking for top talent to contact with an offer to run their own fund within JO Hambro. Instead of employing recruiters, he prefers to work his own contacts.

“I’ve done this for years, keeping my ear to the ground and getting in touch with potential candidates,” Rochussen, he said.

“I’ve never been refused a conversation and if the person says ‘I’m happy where I am and there are clients I need to stay with,’ I leave it at that. But I keep in contact because often things change in someone’s life and career and the interest may change as well.”

In addition, the firm may also hire for supporting roles in Asia, such as sales, depending on analysis of Asia’s distribution channels, he said.

In Hong Kong and Singapore, family offices, financial advisers and banks will be key distribution channels, but in places like Indonesia and the Philippines the path could be through domestic banks or other local operations and that would require a local sales presence, he said.

With four new funds under consideration – provided the right managers can be found – he stays in touch with potential candidates. Funds with a core focus on either China or India are high on the list. Within those two geographies, he would like to have equity funds with sector themes such as consumer spending in China and India.

“Those are the big markets,” Rochussen said. “But we don’t want to compete with other efforts in JOHCM in those countries, so anything new would be highly specialised.”

Part of the Mark Allen Group.