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.

The below profiles weigh how Jacob Tsang put Hong Kong Jockey Club on the path to a thoroughly modern means of investing, adding experts, new processes, in-house research and expanding its diversity of assets. In addition we consider how Zhao Haiying has played a key role as the chief strategy officer in ensuring China Investment Corporation has had decent investment returns. 

Jacob Tsang 
Former director of group treasury, Hong Kong Jockey Club

Acting as group treasurer for the largest tax paying organisation in Hong Kong sounds a big responsibility. For 12 years, it was Jacob Tsang’s to live up to.

He had joined the Hong Kong Jockey Club in 1995, and was made director of global treasury and head of investments in 2008. Tsang worked to expand the organisation’s investment portfolio across geographies and asset classes, hiring experts from the financial sector to ensure he had the inhouse expertise to manage these assets effectively.

This led the Jockey Club to build extensive in-house research and data capabilities, to the extent that it is able to rival many fund houses that gather to try and gain mandates.

Because the organisation doesn’t have specific liabilities, it can act more like a sovereign wealth fund and concentrate on making money while minimising risk. Tsang had initially helped usher in the use of hedge funds in 2001, despite initial resistance from the board of stewards. He followed this with investments into real estate and private equity, then direct investments in hedge funds in 2014, and a year later added private credit and multi-asset strategies.

Tsang retired from his role at the end of 2016; during June of that year the club had reported HK$44.8 billion ($5.78 billion) in equity, mostly in its reserves, contingency fund and development fund.

Zhao Haiying
Chief strategy officer, China Investment Corporation

China Investment Corporation (CIC) may often see senior staff changes, but Zhao Haiying remains vital to its long-term investment planning.

Similar to Li Keping (who is profiled here), Zhao has been at CIC a long time – since 2006 in various roles. She headed the department of asset allocation and strategic research of CIC and was vice general manager of Central Huijin, its unit that invests in local state-owned financial institutions. Zhao also worked for the CSRC, the securities regulator.

She became CIC’s chief strategy officer last year, after four years as chief risk officer. The head of a large asset manager described Zhao as “super impressive” and key to its performance. The fund reported a 10-year cumulative annualised net return of 6.07% in its 2018 annual report, 45 basis points higher than its 10-year performance target.

CIC set out eight “strategic tasks” in the report; one being to “develop robust and new outbound investment approaches”. Zhao, the only woman on its nine-strong leadership team, will be instrumental in driving this development. 

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