Chinese Wealth Manager Noah Plans 50 Hires in H.K. by Early 2016

  • Noah aiming to boost Hong Kong staff to about 135 people
  • William Ma to be international chief investment officer

Noah Holdings Ltd., the Shanghai-based wealth manager listed on the New York Stock Exchange, plans to increase its Hong Kong staff by almost 60 percent by early next year as more wealthy Chinese seek international investments amid volatile markets at home.

Noah aims to boost the number of people responsible for its international business to 135 from about 85, with half of the additions in investment roles, Kenny Lam, the company’s president, said in an interview from Hong Kong. William Ma this month joined from fund of hedge funds company Gottex Penjing Asset Management (HK) as international chief investment officer, and his responsibilities will include allocating money to domestic and international hedge funds, Lam said.

Noah is expanding in Hong Kong as China eases restrictions on cross-border capital flows and more Chinese look outside the country for investment opportunities in real estate, private equity, credit and hedge funds amid volatile domestic markets and slowing growth. Noah joins asset managers such as Springs Capital in tapping international appetite among wealthy Chinese clients. Springs, with offices in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shenzhen, earlier this year hired a four-member team from Hermes Investment Management to start a new Singapore unit.

Volatile Market

"The market in China is so volatile, clients want to diversify," Lam said of Ma’s recruitment. "They want to move away from things they’re already investing in."

A China rout this year led major stock indexes down more than 30 percent since a June peak, wiping more than $5 trillion off the country’s stock market value at one point.

Noah is adding people as global financial firms are cutting jobs. Standard Chartered Plc, Deutsche Bank AG and Credit Suisse Group AG in the past three weeks announced plans to slash more than 30,000 jobs between them.

Chairman Wang Jingbo in 2005 founded Noah, which traces its roots to the private banking department of brokerage Xiangcai Securities Co. Noah’s clients are estimated to have an average net worth of $50 million, and many are business owners, said Lam. Noah has sold more than $37.6 billion of wealth management products since it started, according to its website. Hong Kong is among its fastest-growing businesses, with around 3,500 clients and assets under management more than quadrupling this year to about $2 billion, Lam said.

Noah sells products of other money managers and also offerings of its asset management unit. Products include funds from more than 25 global money managers, such as Oaktree Capital Group LLC. The Los Angeles-based company raised 1 billion yuan ($158 million) from Chinese individuals for a global distressed-debt fund through three Chinese distributors including Noah, it announced last month.

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