If teachers are revered in China, then Boston Advisors Inc. may be sitting pretty.
The Boston-based investment house this week is offering lessons in Cambridge, Mass., on the art of public pension fund management to six senior portfolio managers from China Asset Management Co., Beijing.
Michael J. Vogelzang, Boston Advisors president and chief investment officer, said he hopes the relationships his company is forging with China's investment elite will help his firm gain a subadvisory role with Chinese firms when they start investing in the United States.
That day may not be far off. Beijing could open the way for qualified Chinese money management firms to invest overseas as early as next year, notes Todd Finkelstein, Boston Advisors' senior vice president in charge of fixed-income investments.
Boston Advisors, with roughly $3.8 billion under management, including $800 million in institutional money, isn't the likeliest candidate to vie for a piece of that tempting Chinese pie: "We're Lilliputians in the land of the giants," concedes Mr. Vogelzang, who has run the company since coming from Freedom Capital Management in 1997.
The two-week program now in progress involves eight days of classroom work with professors from Boston and Harvard universities, followed by three days of mentoring sessions with Boston Advisors' investment managers, compliance officers and marketing executives, said Mr. Finkelstein.
Boston Advisors' "China connection" is Sheng-de (Jeff) Liu, a Chinese national who began his investment career in 1987 with Guangzhou International Trust & Investment Corp., Guangzhou. Mr. Liu joined Boston Advisors' parent, Hartford, Conn.-based Advest Inc. in 2002 as a financial adviser and Asian Pacific business development coordinator, Mr. Finkelstein said. When Mr. Liu learned that a senior official of the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the president of China Asset Management were taking courses at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University last year, he arranged for them to meet Messrs. Vogelzang and Finkelstein.
At a later meeting in Boston Advisors' office, Mr. Vogelzang said the Chinese commission official looked out at a building under construction across the street, with little more than the frame complete, and compared it to China's capital market.
China Asset Management is the first investment house to be founded in China, in 1998, and one of six the government has designated to invest roughly $15 billion from China's National Social Security Fund.