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AXA IM is hiring as demand for wealth management services in Asia undergoes rapid growth

Terence Lam, head of sales and marketing for Asia at AXA Investment Managers (AXA IM), believes newcomers to his team have chosen a particularly good time to join the industry.

“Wealth management is becoming more and more important to our business,” he points out. “The wealth being created in Asia is leading to a dramatic increase in the demand for wealth management services. A lot of financial institutions are already shifting from investment banking to wealth management and this is just the beginning. It’s not just about China, it’s across Asia.” 

Globally, AXA IM has over 2,300 employees working out of 28 offices in 21 countries. Lam is in a good position to assess the comparative development of the Asian market.

First, he says, clients are becoming more and more sophisticated. “In the past, people tended to say that institutional clients – such as central banks, sovereign wealth funds and corporates – were very sophisticated compared to retail clients. But now they are on the same level.”

He also sees regulators becoming more cautious, with them introducing new regulations and additional monitoring of the way investment managers treat their retail and institutional clients. Because of this, the job market for compliance officers is very hot right now.

Finally, the opening up of China is another big change, he says, saying that even as late as the early 2000s, mainland clients were not allowed to invest offshore.

The key term for asset managers now is “diversification”, he points out, using funds as an example. “Within a bond fund you probably have up to 100 papers; for an equity fund you probably have around 60 or 70 equities. So you’re not asking your clients to put all their eggs in one basket.”

In terms of specific trends, he says he’s recently seen a growing interest in European equities. “European REIT funds are also popular now; property is a favourite asset class amongst Asians.”

To provide the level of service its clients demand, and that the regulators insist on, AXA IM needs its people to have a wide range of specialist skills.

“I have institutional sales people. I have retails sales people, who also cover distributors. Then I have the marketing and communications team, consultants and sales support. The sales support people are very important, because my sales people shouldn’t be spending time in the office, but be out there seeing clients,” he says.

If, for example, one of his sales people is meeting with an institutional client, the marketing and communications department might have to get information from a product specialist in Paris for the presentation, and sales support would have to print the documentation. 
“We also need compliance to sign off for everything that goes out to the client, so it involves the whole company,” he adds.

Lam’s sales and marketing operation is expanding alongside AXA IM’s overall headcount in Asia, which has almost doubled since 2010. 

“The team and the office are growing all the time. You may be a superstar as a sales person but if the chemistry doesn’t work, and if you can’t work with the other members of the team and you demotivate them, then you’re not who we’re looking for.”

The company recruits through a variety of channels. As well as hiring locally, it also takes members of the VIE, the paid international internship programme that is sponsored by the French government. 

“We’re now seeing French Asians on this scheme. We provide training opportunities for them and many of them will go on to get permanent contracts with us.”

Given the fierce competition for talent, AXA IM is also taking some innovative steps to identify the brightest and best.

Will Moore, who graduated from the UK’s Exeter University in 2014 with a degree in Russian, was the winner of AXA’s 2014 Great Global Adventurer online game, which saw 25,000 people take part.

Moore won a year of world travel, including participation in two internships with AXA IM and a six-week charity project.

Aiming for a career in asset management, Moore worked as part of the sales and marketing team at AXA IM during his internship in Hong Kong.

“My rotations have been in sales and marketing, client services and legal,” Moore says. “It’s been fascinating to get a solid foundation in asset management. At the end of the year, I’m hoping to get onto the Global Graduate Programme that AXA IM offers.”

This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Investing in talent.