Even the largest firms have ground to cover. For Manulife Asset Management, it is Europe, the Middle East and further into Asia, breaking away from a long-held company strategy of only operating where Manulife has an insurance footprint.

The firm's president and CEO, Kai Sotorp, says that the $300+ billion global asset manager isn't doing it for the adventure. Rather, it is looking to its own business ratio and sees it shifting over time to have greater representation of assets from these regions. "We're just simply responding to that growth," he tells Money Management Executive. "We're foreseeing that China will be the single biggest retirement market in the world."

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