BGI hires Fidelity exec for relationships

James Blair joins BGI to develop business with public institutions.
James Blair has joined Barclays Global Investors in Singapore in a new position as head of official institutions for Asia ex-Japan.

He joins from Fidelity Investments in Hong Kong, where he had served as director for fixed income. In that capacity he had acted as a bridge between clients and FidelityÆs fixed-income managers, helping to promote the firmÆs capabilities in bonds. Blair held that role for two years, before which he ran Asian fixed income at Aberdeen Asset Management in Singapore.

BGI has one of the funds industryÆs most impressive client lists among public institutions, but these had been covered by Robert Haber, now vice chairman for Asia-Pacific in San Francisco, along with executives flying in from London or America.

Haber still travels regularly to Asia to network with clients and regulators but Blair will now provide a steady liaison in this time zone. His job is a mix of service and new sales. ôI will keep service levels humming for existing business and build new relationships,ö Blair explains, noting that his clientele include central banks, official investment corporations and state pension funds.

His remit excludes Japan and Australia but includes India. He believes that Korea and China represent ôthe most obvious ports of callö. He believes that clients are interested in fixed-income solutions, which fits BlairÆs background, but not simply liability-driven investments (LDI) as in Europe. Instead clients in Asia may require more customisation, including work on benchmark structures, tracking-error targets and asset-allocation strategies.

Blair reports to Jonathan Pye, Singapore-based head of sales and distribution for Asia, who in turn reports to Mark Talbot, Asia CEO in Hong Kong. Nigel Williams continues to oversee the combined European and Asian businesses from London.

For Blair the new job offers more responsibility. Instead of focusing just on fixed income, he will be involved in all asset classes, including funds of funds, tactical asset allocation, overlay products and the gamut of passive to active strategies. On the other hand, his clientele is now just the public institutions, while at Fidelity his bond role included retail and other types of institutions.

Executives at Fidelity in Hong Kong say they have not decided whether to seek a replacement for Blair, and are assessing their options.
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