Money Moves

High-growth Asian market attracts international players

by Ada Poon

Amy Cho, managing director, regional head of business development
Asia Pacific, Pictet (Asia) Ltd
Photo: Johnson Poon

With the number of high net-worth individuals across the world constantly increasing, the demand for wealth management services is growing. The high-growth markets in the Asia-Pacific region in particular are attracting the attention of international players keen to capitalise on the wealth of opportunities.

Founded in Switzerland in 1805, Pictet & Cie is one the largest private banks in Europe. In 2006, the company expanded its asset management business in Asia Pacific to broaden the scope of its services and client coverage in the region.

Amy Cho, managing director, regional head of business development, Asia Pacific, Pictet (Asia) Ltd, joined the company last year and recruited a team of finance veterans to focus on the active marketing of specialist investment management services and to support the company's development of distribution partnerships with both global and local financial institutions.

So far, Ms Cho is satisfied with the progress of the various business development initiatives, such as establishing close relationships and running distribution activities with private banks in the region. However, further initiatives are planned to ensure the company's ongoing competitiveness.

"Apart from private placements, we are planning to launch public offerings in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and retail distribution is expected in the fourth quarter of this year upon completion of the approval process. Thus, we are looking at another round of recruitments towards the end of the year to increase resources in sales and marketing to support the launch."

When new employees come on board at Pictet, the first three to four months usually serve as a settling-in period to familiarise them with the bank's culture and client services. This consolidates staff's existing knowledge and experience, and gets them to a level where they can participate in the bank's global dealings, including taking part in meetings in Europe and exchanging ideas with other fund managers and representatives from Pictet's headquarters.

Pictet has over 90 registered funds in Luxembourg, though not all of them address the specific demand in Asia Pacific. When participating in European meetings, the Asia-Pacific team can demonstrate their expertise in customer preferences, the growing interest in emerging markets, Asian equities and themed funds, and the kinds of customisations that are needed to appeal to Asian clients.

The company recruits both graduates and investment veterans. Qualities for frontline staff include enthusiasm for interacting with people, good communication and presentation skill, and a solid base of professional knowledge in investments, says Ms Cho.

Although an academic background in finance may add value to the job, it is not a prerequisite for a position. As a graduate in industrial engineering, Ms Cho demonstrates the possibilities that are available to a high-calibre employee. "I enjoy dealing with people and this industry is dynamic and energy-driven. I am exposed to a broad range of knowledge and meet a variety of people every day," she says. "My academic background has provided me with skills in logical thinking and problem solving, which enhance my work as well."

Ms Cho is optimistic about the outlook of the wealth management market in Asia and believes there are many opportunities for international players.

Taken from Career Times 17 August 2007, p. A15
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