“He is leaving to pursue other opportunities,” a Vanguard spokeswoman told FSA.
“Vanguard will conduct a search for a permanent replacement, [and] in the interim, Axel Lomholt, currently head of portfolio review, Asia, will serve as head of Vanguard Asia,” she added.
Lin had combined his previous role as managing director for China with his appointment as head of Asia in November 2018.
However, in a newly-created position, Yan Pu was made head of Vanguard’s investment management group in China in November last year. Based in Shanghai, she is “responsible for building and leading Vanguard’s China-based investment team in providing investment solutions for clients in China”, according to a press release announcing her appointment.
At the same time, Lomholt, who is now taking on the caretaker role until Lin’s replacement is found, took over Pu’s job as head of portfolio review, Asia.
Despite these recent developments, the spokeswoman told FSA that Vanguard’s “business plans and commitment to investors in Asia, including China, [and] the organisation structure remain unchanged”.
Lin could not be reached for comment.
“There are currently 5,700 mutual funds from different providers available on the [Ant] platform (out of 5,971 in the market), including equity, fixed income and money market funds,” she added.
Last month, Bloomberg reported that Vanguard was one of six overseas asset managers that planned to apply for fully foreign-owned mutual fund licenses which would allow them to sell onshore products to China retail investors – unlike the private fund management (PFM) licence, which limits distribution to qualified investors.
However, Vanguard, which is the second largest money manager in the world with AUM of $6trn, has not yet applied for a PFM licence.
At least 21 foreign firms now hold a PFM licence, according to Amac, including Blackrock iShares, a rival provider of passive products including ETFs.
Plans for a PFM licence are still “on our radar”, Lin told FSA in February 2019.
“We usually do not rush into launching new products based on the activity of the competition or market trends,” he added.
Lin noted in February that of the 20 staff in China, no one was involved in investment management. The firm’s onshore capabilities only included market research, investor education, client servicing, finance and human resource staff.
“But having investment professionals is part of our long-term plan,” he said — which seemed to be confirmed by Pu’s move to Shanghai in November .