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.
For the latest two profiles, we consider the major contribution made by Ng Kok Song to Singapore's GIC and the shaping of its investment strategy during the late 2000s and early 2010s, and look at how Bank of Thailand's Vachira Arromdee expanding the central bank's asset pool and types of products into which it invested.
Ng Kok Song
Former group chief investment officer, GIC
Since being established in 1981, GIC has become one of the world’s most respected institutional investors.
Ng Kok Song has had a major impact, alongside others such as Sung Cheng Chih, on shaping the Singapore sovereign wealth fund as an investment leader. As GIC’s first group chief investment officer, from 2007 to 2013, he integrated the investment strategy across public and private markets, which put it ahead of many of its peers at the time.
Ng has argued that an institution should not focus on returns on individual investments but on overall performance of the portfolio. And that the time horizon for meaningful measurement should not be one-, three- or five-years, but 20. This may seem obvious for sovereign or pension funds, but many do not act on this advice.
In 42 years helping to manage Singapore’s foreign reserves, Ng worked at GIC from 1986 to 2013. The year after he left, he co-founded Avanda Investment Management, where he is chairman today.
From 1983 to 1987 Ng was also the founding chairman of the Singapore International Monetary Exchange. His impact on both institutional investment and capital markets in Asia and globally can hardly be overstated.
Assistant governor, head of the financial markets operations group; Former senior director of reserve management, Bank of Thailand
Thailand’s central bank is viewed as one of the more progressive in Asian emerging markets, having responded to the government’s need to maintain – and ideally grow – currency reserves, while retaining liquidity.
Vachira Arromdee has been centrally involved in how Bank of Thailand does so. She has worked at the institution for over a decade, and looked after reserve management from 2011 to 2013. Vachira has since become assistant governor and head of the financial markets operations group, which oversees the reserve management division.
During Vachira’s tenure, BoT’s foreign currency reserves have swelled to $226.3 billion as of last month, up from $165.7 billion back in December 2010. It has evolved its investing too, moving initially to corporate bonds and then getting approval in 2017 to invest in equities, ahead of many regional peers.
BoT has sought to strengthen its portfolio management by implementing SimCorp Dimension, a front-to-back-office system that provides it with a centralised investment book of record. This project, overseen by Vachira's department, puts it ahead of other pension and sovereign wealth funds in Asia, let alone other reserve managers.
These profiles originally featured in the 20th anniversay edition of AsianInvestor, which was published in late June.