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Vanguard prepares for China retail fund licence

The firm has hired Da Cheng Fund Management’s CEO to head its retail fund business.

Vanguard has appointed Luo Dengpan as its general manager for the yet-to-be-established retail fund management company (FMC) in China, according to a statement from the firm.

Luo will join the firm next month, and until the FMC is established, he will have the title of head of China fund management and will report to Scott Conking, Vanguard’s Asia head.

Vanguard made the appointment as it is preparing to apply for an FMC licence with the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC).

“The process requires hiring of certain key roles before a firm can apply for the license, so this is a significant step,” a spokeswoman for the firm told FSA.

So far, only Blackrock has received approval from the CSRC to establish an FMC, while Fidelity and Neuberger Berman are still waiting for regulatory approval. According to the regulator’s records, the CSRC has “accepted” Fidelity and Neuberger Berman’s applications.

Vanguard’s move also comes after it decided to close down its Hong Kong and Japan offices and made Shanghai as its regional headquarters.

Currently, the firm is winding down its Hong Kong businesses and transitioning clients, which will take around 18-24 months, according to the spokeswoman. Conking, who is based in Hong Kong, will eventually move to Shanghai permanently and will head the overall China business, which includes the soon-to-be FMC and other entities, such as its joint venture with Ant Financial.

Luo, meanwhile, will solely focus on the FMC, the spokeswoman noted.

Before Vanguard, Luo was CEO of Da Cheng Fund Management since 2014, according to the statement. Before that, he was managing director a private equity firm Citic M&A Fund Management. He also worked with the CSRC for four years as a senior consultant for the regulator’s planning committee, as well as a director for its fund and intermediary supervision.

Vanguard officially launched its office in China in 2017, when it established its wholly foreign-owned enterprise (WFOE) in Shanghai, according to the statement.

As of the beginning of 2019, the firm’s China business has grown to 20 staff from just five in mid-2017. At the time, 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.

Part of the Mark Allen Group.