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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.
We continue by explaining why we decided to include Li Keping, the former chief investment officer of China Investment Corporation and former director of investments for the National Council for Social Security Fund, and Nasir ab Latif, the former deputy CEO for the Employees Provident Fund of Malaysia.
Former CIO and vice-chairman, China Investment Corporation
Former director of investments and vice-chairman, National Council for Social Security Fund
China Investment Corporation has had a bumpy investment ride over the years, even compared to its sovereign wealth fund peers. The now-$941 billion fund has had notoriously high turnover in its investment team and sizeable changes to its portfolio management strategy over the years.
Li Keping brought some stability, continuity and strong investing experience to the institution. He joined in 2011 as CIO, was vice chairman from 2014 to 2016, and was active in an advisory role until at least late 2018. He is now understood to have retired.
He came to CIC with a long investment track record from China’s National Council for Social Security Fund (NCSSF). During his decade there Li had helped build its team and strategy, and was its CIO from 2003 to 2007.
Moreover, he filled a key gap in CIC’s leadership team: the previous CIO, Gao Xiqing, was a lawyer by training and other top executives such as chairman Lou Jiwei had more political and general financial experience.
At CIC, Li recognised the benefits of building direct and private market investment capabilities, something he told AsianInvestor in 2017 was a priority. Its alternative allocation reached 44.1% by 2018, up from around one-third a few years earlier, and is on track to hit CIC’s 2022 target of 50%.
Moreover, Li has been a keen ambassador to other sovereign wealth funds, acting as a bridge between them and Chinese companies to facilitate investment.
Mohamad Nasir ab Latif
Former deputy Chief executive (investment), Employees Provident Fund
”Humble" and "unheralded" are the kind of words used by industry executives to describe Nasir Latif.
Since joining EPF in 1982 Nasir has helped EPF grow into one of the world’s largest pension pots, with assets of RM924.75 billion ($216.13 billion). He helped it become an increasingly canny investor, gaining advice on the best asset mixes. As head of investment research in the 2000s Nasir was willing to criticise incoming deals from the heads of well-connected companies if he felt they didn’t make sense.
In 2013 Nasir was appointed to be deputy chief executive (investment), making him effectively the seniormost executive overseeing the portfolio. Along with CEO Shahril Ridza Ridzuan, he built the pension fund’s international assets, including real estate and infrastructure. EPF had 30.3% of its total portfolio at the end of 2019, up from 26.7% the year before.
Nasir also helped carefully oversee local equity mandates to avoid swamping Malaysia’s small stock market.
Nasir is an “unheralded star,” said one head of international institutional coverage at a large fund manager. “He’s highly regarded even though he didn’t have a high profile, and is one of the smartest guys.”
Another institutional executive praised Nasir’s integrity, humility and strong knowledge of markets and asset allocation.
Nasir was due to retire in November 2018 but EPF extended his tenure to the end of 2019, after the departure of Shahril. He worked there for nearly four decades.
These profiles originally featured in the 20th anniversary edition of AsianInvestor magazine, which was published in late June.
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