THE head of Wall Street powerhouse Salomon Brothers yesterday pledged that the firm was in for the long haul in what would be a ''deliberate'' and ''sympathetic'' approach to building a local business in the region's equity and fixed-income markets. ''We see Asia as part of the 1990s. I can't tell you where it will be in 2030, but I can tell you we're very serious about it - we do believe in long-term commitment,'' asserted Mr Deryk Maughan, the Briton who took over as the firm's chairman and chief executive last year in the wake of the 1991 US treasury bond trading scandal. US investment banking firms have historically taken a short-term bottom-line approach towards the region, particularly in Hongkong, where they have developed a reputation for hiring one year and firing the next. Mr Maughan, who headed the firm's Asian operations based in Tokyo from 1986 to 1991, estimated it would take five years for Salomon to meet its target of becoming a leading investment bank in the region. As part of the plan, Hongkong would be made a regional headquarters reporting directly to New York rather than through Tokyo as previously. ''But I don't want it to be written as some bombastic, here come the Americans conquering the world . . . this is a more deliberate, thoughtful, sympathetic, integrated approach,'' he said. The prospect of going head-to-head with well-established local and regional firms such as Peregrine and Wardley in competing for local business did not daunt Mr Maughan. ''I happen to think that our reach is somewhat broader,'' he said, noting that European, American and Japanese investors had a growing interest in the region. ''Strategically we're well placed to take advantage of that versus the leading regional brokers. ''We could just hand it over to the locals and split fees and commissions but we feel those are relationships we want to preserve and develop.'' As for the competition from Wall Street, he said: ''Our quantitative research is second to none and our capacity to commit capital and price risk is ultimately our distinguishing feature.''