iCapital taps ex-Probitas boss to lead Asia business, launch HK office

The platform joins the likes of Cambridge Associates, Blackstone and Credit Suisse in attempting to capture Asia’s burgeoning HNWI opportunity.

iCapital Network, an online alternatives platform representing about $73 billion of assets, has appointed the former head of Asia at Probitas Partners to lead its business in the region.

Edwin Chan will serve as head of client solutions, Asia, from iCapital’s newly launched Hong Kong office, according to a statement seen by Private Equity International. Chan departed Probitas, a global placement agent, in 2019 after more than a decade to launch advisory firm HBridge Capital.

Chan’s arrival coincides with that of Manuel Faccio, former chief executive of Switzerland for DWS Asset Management, as European head of client solutions in iCapital’s Zurich office, the statement said.

The duo form part of a broader expansion outside the US, which began with the appointment of Marco Bizzozero, a former chief executive of group wealth management at UniCredit, as head of international in December. About 15 percent of iCapital’s platform assets are from outside the US.

“We have already quite a few clients in [Asia], so it was a natural move for us to set a presence there,” Bizzozero told PEI. “In terms of location, Hong Kong and Singapore’s kind of the primary focus, but we’re already thinking about other regions and other large onshore markets. Obviously, we are looking at Japan, we will look at China, we will look at South Korea.”

Asia is expected to supplant Europe as the world’s second largest ultra-high-net-worth individual hub by 2024, with high growth expected in India, China and Indonesia, according to Knight Frank’s Wealth Report 2020. The average Asian UHNWI portfolio had a 7 percent allocation to private equity last year, compared with 11 percent in North America and 8 percent in Europe. Some 32 percent of bankers and advisors surveyed expected clients in the region to raise their allocations in the near future.

Institutions such as Cambridge Associates, Blackstone and Credit Suisse are among those hoping to capture Asia’s burgeoning HNWI opportunity, a process tied to the democratisation of private markets. Another online platform, Moonfare, has also turned its attention to the region.

iCapital operates on a strictly business-to-business basis, providing advisors and their clients with access to a curated menu of private equity, private credit and other alternative investments through a technology platform. HNWIs invest through wealth advisors and other intermediaries, which register on the platform or access white-label versions customised by banks and asset managers.

The company raised $146 million last year in a funding round led by Hong Kong’s Ping An Global Voyager Fund and others including BlackRock and Blackstone. A subsidiary of iCapital also took over management of KKR‘s PE vehicle for retail investors in March, which involved the latter taking an ownership stake. Most of iCapital’s GP owners are understood to distribute their funds on its platform.

“The focus has been so far on… the large private equity firms, where many of them also have dedicated Asian funds,” Bizzozero said. “Going forward, our focus will be also on the equally important local private market firms.”