Many important people have played a role in helping institutional investors across Asia Pacific develop over the past 20 years, but far fewer can claim to have truly broken new ground.

For our 20th anniversary we have chosen 20 individuals, in no particular order, that we think have made a major impact in the development of asset owners across the region over the past two decades. These individuals represent some of the most thoughtful, open-minded and motivated individuals in the industry.

Some are leaders of their organisations; others have played important roles within them, helping expand their institution’s capabilities into important new areas. Each has made a telling contribution to the evolution of institutional investment across Asia Pacific over the past two decades.

Our last two profiles focus upon Dilhan Pillay and Choo Heung Sik. Pillay is the chief executive of Temasek International in Singapore, and has helped to expand the state investor beyond local equity stakes and into a variety of new sectors and raising its sustainability engagement. Meanwhile Choo, currently a director at the World Bank, previously helped Bank of Korea add portfolio management and also improved the investment structure of Korea Investment Corpration. 

Dilhan Pillay 
Chief executive, Temasek International

Temasek Holdings has ridden the wave of several investment megatrends, as Dilhan Pilhay has risen to the top at the Singaporean state investor.

He joined in September 2010, became deputy CEO of Temasek International in October 2017 and chief executive in April last year. Pillay has also headed the investment, portfolio management and enterprise development units.

During Pillay’s time Temasek has shifted into private markets in search of higher returns. Listed assets made up 58% of its portfolio last year, versus 78% in 2011.

Temasek has particularly pushed into private investments in technology, health and life sciences. That’s been smart; aside from fiscal 2019, when it registered a 1.49% total shareholder return, Temasek’s portfolio has delivered 9% annualised over a decade.

Pillay has also improved its green credentials. The head of a US fund house said: “He has a personally strong influence on incorporating sustainability into Temasek’s investing activities.” It intends to be carbon neutral by end-2020 and halve the emissions of its portfolio companies by 2030.

This profiled has been updated to show that Dilhan Pillay is chief executive of Temasek International rather than Temasek Holdings.

Choo Heung-Sik
Director of treasury investment at the World Bank; Former head of reserve management at Bank of Korea; Former chief investment officer, Korea Investment Corporation

It’s not common for a Korean to lead fixed income investments at a US-based multilateral institution. Choo Heung-sik is an exception, having been appointed director of treasury investment management at the World Bank in August 2016. He leads the team that invests $155 billion in global fixed income.

The move followed a career over 30 years at Korea’s central bank and then two-and-a-half years after as chief investment officer of Korea Investment Corporation.

During Choo’s progressive tenure as head of reserve management at Bank of Korea, he oversaw the growth of foreign reserves from $2 billion to $350 billion and diversified investments into corporate bonds and equities. He also played a leading role in developing BoK’s reserve management framework from cash to portfolio management, and subsequently to asset liability management.

Choo then led KIC’s strengthening its investment capacity by combining a top-down framework and bottom-up approach.

Several leading investment executives admire Choo’s achievements. He may pave the way for more Asian investment leaders to take the reins at Western institutions.

These profiles originally featured in the 20th anniversary of AsianInvestor, which was originally published in late June.