Spy’s network of contacts has revealed that James Campion, who has been in charge of distribution in Asia at Matthews Asia, is taking a sabbatical from the industry in January. Spy understands that James is stepping down to go and travel for at least six months. Matthews recently hired Ming Wong, as reported by Spy, who is effectively taking over James’s role. Spy understands James expects to return to the industry after having explored parts of Europe and beyond. Spy is in no doubt that many peers will look at his plans with a touch of envy.
Wilson Soh has joined JP Morgan Asset Management in Singapore from Legg Mason. He’s in a regional marketing capacity, taking over from Mandy Chew, who has gone on maternity leave. Wilson held marketing and compliance roles at Legg Mason. Spy understands that Mandy has given birth to a baby boy this week and will, no doubt, be thinking a lot more about nappies than asset management marketing. Congratulations Mandy!
Gary Dugan has taken up the role of CEO at Purple Asset Management in Singapore, replacing Alan Scrimger. Purple is a joint venture between global wealth manager The Fry Group and Independent Strategic Group. Purple provides DFM services to IFAs, family offices and wealth managers. Gary was previously CIO at Emirates NBD and CIO of Coutts in Asia and Middle East.
Aberdeen Standard has announced it has hired Aymeric Forest from Schroders to be the new head of multi-asset investing from February next year. He is replacing Guy Stern, who is retiring. Guy has overseen ASI’s flagship MA strategy, GARS, which has had a challenging time over the last few years, suffering outflows amidst weak performance. ASI has said there will be no change to their investment process.
Spy notices that asset management marketing across numerous mediums usually ramps up in Q3 each year. However, according to Fundamental Media, a specialist agency, there was not as much digital marketing in Hong Kong carried out in Q3 as there was in Q2. The top five advertisers in Hong Kong during the period were: Fidelity, Allianz GI, Nikko AM, Samsung AM and Schroders, as tracked by Fundamental’s monitor service.
A number of asset managers have jumped on the “mobility” theme in Asia. The idea is not hard to grasp and makes for compelling discussions. Electric cars, autonomous cars, ride sharing, cars as a subscription service, smart cities and so much more get the equity juices running – and provide a lot more excitement than a dull bond fund. A poll held at FSA’s Investment Forum in HK last week will probably please BNY Mellon, Robeco, Pictet AM and others offering funds in this space: 45% of the attendees said they hoped to buy an electric car in the next 24 months. It will be easier to get fund buyers to buy a mobility fund if they are also enjoying their new Tesla, BYD or BAIC.
Spy’s colleagues were hosting a Forum for the IFA community in Singapore on Thursday at the Westin Hotel. Who should also be at the hotel running a seminar? That would be Franklin Templeton. FTI was promoting emerging market strategies. EM remains deeply out of favour and no doubt FTI was talking to some sceptical distributors who need a dose of convincing.
Perhaps FTI is onto something, though, if Spy’s quote of the week, which comes from Christopher Weber, an exceptional independent money manager, is accurate. “If you feel great about buying anything, you’re probably making a mistake. Feeling great means that you’re doing what everyone you know is also doing, which in turn means you aren’t getting any bargains. Instead, if your stomach is churning as you buy something, you are one of the few people you know buying anything, and thus that asset has a better chance to pay off. You’ll find that your best investments are made with your stomach tied up in knots the most. You want to buy what people think you’re crazy to buy and sell when and what everyone is buying.” Nailed it.
Do you remember when everyone wanted an MBA? That became passé as every man and his dog seemed to get one. Spy suggests that the CFA is becoming a similar qualification. In Singapore this week a whopping 328 people became CFA Charterholders. Spy’s career advice for people wanting to stand out is to study something truly different: the art of the Mayans, building techniques of the Ming Dynasty, the Wallace line between Bali and Lombok or some such exotica. Otherwise your CV will look like: John Smith Econ, MBA, CFA, SAEE* (*Same as everyone else.)
Spy has been watching President Trump have a very public spat with Jerome Powell, the Fed Chairman, who Trump accuses of sabotaging the economy with his rate rises. To economists who think this is unprecedented presidential interference, Paul Volcker, a former Fed Chairman has published a book to remind one and all that this has been done before. In “Keeping at It: The Quest for Sound Money”, Volcker recounts a story about US president Lyndon B Johnson summoning then-Fed chairman, William Martin, to his ranch in Texas to angrily berate him for similarly raising rates. They say history rhymes but does not repeat. Well, perhaps, sometimes it does simply repeat. Johnson was a bully and so is Trump.
Manulife wealth has a new campaign in Singapore all about behaving like adult. One of Spy’s photographers spotted the colourful pictures, which remind one of the horrors of middle age. Spy’s advice… don’t hop on the scale and reach for another beer. Ignorance is bliss.
Until next week…