Frank Henze and SSgA part ways

09 June 2014   Category: News, Asia, Hong Kong   By David Macfarlane

Hong Kong-based Frank Henze, whose mandate had been to oversee State Street Global Advisors’ (SSgA) regional ETF expansion strategy, has parted ways with the firm.

One senior executive from the Hong Kong ETF industry familiar with Mr. Henze and SSgA told Asia Asset Management that Mr. Henze had been “pushed out abruptly” in a “rather secretive” fashion by the firm.

On contacting SSgA for more details on Mr. Henze’s departure, the firm’s PR company came back with: “As is common, they don’t comment on individual staff departures”. They did, however, provide an announcement about recent changes at SSgA and confirmed that due to these changes there was no direct replacement for Mr. Henze.

SSgA appointed Mr. Henze to the newly-created role of head of ETFs, Asia Pacific, in December 2010; his title was subsequently changed to managing director and head of ETFs, Asia Pacific. He joined SSgA from HSBC where he had been responsible for global ETF product development. Prior to that, Mr. Henze spent five years with iShares in Europe, where he last served as European head of product development.

One explanation for Mr. Henze’s departure is that he has been sacrificed, or has sacrificed himself to enable some serious company restructuring.

On June 3 of this year, SSgA named James MacNevin as the head of its Intermediary Business Group (IBG) – Asia Pacific, to lead the firm’s expansion in this channel within the region. He said at the time: “Today we have taken some key steps toward better positioning our business to capture growth opportunities in the APAC intermediary space. More specifically we will be uniting the ETF business together with the broader Intermediary Business Group.”

An SSgA spokesperson added: “Having a single lead in the intermediary space under the strategic direction of James MacNevin will enable us to holistically coordinate resources, identify growing opportunities and, more importantly, address the growing needs of our clients.”

The mission of IBG is to partner with financial intermediaries to deliver an array of institutional-calibre investment capabilities, offers separate accounts, mutual funds and ETFs. With the extension of this structure through the newly created position based in Sydney, Mr. MacNevin is now responsible for driving strategic direction and ensuring execution of SSgA’s intermediary strategy. Continuing in his role as chief operating officer, Asia Pacific, as well, he reports to Lochiel Crafter, head of Asia Pacific, and Jim Ross, global head of SPDR ETFs and intermediary distribution.

SSgA is regionally strong across the board with its ETF business, especially with SPDR ETFs, the asset manager’s global ETF brand, which include first-to-market launches with gold, international real estate, fixed income and sector ETFs. The firm introduced ETFs in Asia Pacific in 1999 when it launched the Tracker Fund of Hong Kong (TraHK).

In his last interview with AAM for its annual Best of the Best Awards supplement, which was published in March, Mr. Henze made the following prediction on what the next crop of ETFs would bring to investors: ETFs are on an upward growth trajectory and each market in Asia has its own domestic focus at the moment. In Korea and in Hong Kong there are a lot of RQFII products that give access to China – and that’s a common theme. The growth trajectory has been augmented by number of different asset classes, and there is a greater variety of them as you have more domestic buyers coming to the market. On this trajectory we will see more variety in the product set, and we’ll also see greater depth in the liquidity. Over time, we may experience less buying from overseas – we’ve seen this trend in Europe before, so it’s a well-trodden path.”

Time will tell if he made the right calls.