Aberdeen Asset Management
This Singapore-based firm has enjoyed terrific growth since its founding in 1992 with $400 million of assets to today's $3.5 billion. Unlike most competitors, Aberdeen eschews the division of analysts and portfolio managers: the managers do the research themselves. This, plus a tight team approach with an emphasis on cross-coverage, has allowed the managers to understand the companies they invest it. It has also promoted solidarity: only one manager has left in the company's history.
Aberdeen also disregards indices and the concept of relative return. It argues that market capitalization is no proper basis for a 'neutral' portfolio position in Asia, because it relies too much on history; following an index subjects you to market consensus. "We hold absolute return to be more important over the long term, with risks controlled primarily at the stock level." It is little wonder then that in bear markets, Aberdeen shines.
Schroder Investment Management
<"Stock selection is the largest contributor to alpha in our investment process, accounting for 80% of realized and targeted value added," says the firm. With six analysts in Singapore and over 100 company contacts each year, Schroders has consistently demonstrated its knowledge of the local market.
Led by CIO Leong Wah-kheong, who has been with the firm for 16 years, the local team screens the universe of stocks to approximately 45 that are eligible for purchase, with the view to beating benchmarks by 2-4% per annum with a tracking error of 3-7%. Schroders has 250 investment professionals globally whose expertise and ratings are shared via a global research investment database, a proprietary tool that allows consistent evaluation across sectors and regions. Schroders manages over $11 billion from Asian clients.
10-year risk-adjusted performance
DBS Asset Management
In a crowded field, we had to reward DBSAM when we saw its client testimonials, as well as messages from investment consultants praising its service.
"I would like to commend you and your investment team on the good performance...despite the poor market conditions over the last two years, DBSAM has done well to achieve consistent outperformance," says one client.
Another thanked DBSAM for its improved reporting and service, while others confirmed they would be topping up their mandates. The firm reports over 70% of client mandates secured since 2000 have been increased.
The cornerstone of its ability to deliver lies in the quality and experience of its senior investment team, all of whom have 10-20 years experience. "The investment team at DBSAM represents perhaps the largest collection of private sector, senior fund management talent in Singapore today," he says. DBS is of course a Singapore institution. Its unparalleled history and local network has enabled its fund managers to build close relationships with companies in Singapore for many years.
Hong Kong equity,
CDC Ixis Asset Management Asia
Last year, the Hang Seng Index dropped -18.22%. CDC IXIS's Hong Kong Renaissance fund gained 1.74%. If that doesn't say it all, then consider these remarks from clients:
"The fund gave us an extraordinary performance relative to its benchmark," says a pension fund. Says another: "CDC Ixis provided us access to one of the best performing regions in the world...and outstanding performance compared to its benchmark, together with one of the lowest costs available in the market."
CDC Ixis AMA is the Asia ex-Japan arm of CDC Ixis Asset Management, a subsidiary of the investment banking arm of the Caisse des Depots et Consignations (CDC) and of the Caisse D'Epargne, making it a major French public institution.
Hong Kong equity,
five-year risk-adjusted performance
Citigroup Asset Management
Happy clients lead to awards. Says one multinational pension fund in Hong Kong: "CAM has unmatched geographic presence, reputation and resources that they tap in order to provide us with investment expertise. We have found that Citigroup AM is dedicated to client servicing and has a culture that is committed to meeting their clients' needs. Our association with CAM has been rewarding."
And Bank Consortium, a local MPF service provider using Citi funds, adds: "Citigroup Asset Management has a number of the essential ingredients that we look for in a fund manager: portfolio management expertise, proven research capabilities and client servicing."
Each member of Citi's Hong Kong equities team has over 10 years of industry experience, and the team has been together in Citigroup Asset Management for over a decade. The team has outperformed its benchmark, the Hang Seng Index, consistently for the last three years.
Hong Kong equity,
10-year risk-adjusted performance
Credit Agricole Asset Management
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of client testimonials, particularly in the most competitive asset classes. One local pension fund says: "Credit Agricole has been the manager of our superannuation scheme's Hong Kong funds for almost two years. During that period, the performance for the actively managed portfolio has been exceptional, outperforming the benchmark in excess of 57%. This client also praised Credit Agricole's steady service.
What we've noticed about CA Asset Management is that it has delivered this kind of performance and service in a risk-controlled manner consistently for years, outperforming the Hang Seng by 7.47% over the past decade (annualised returns in US dollars). It also won our award last year for one-year performance in Hong Kong equities. The firm has operated in Hong Kong for 20 years, and traces its Banque Indosuez roots here to 1894. Today it manages $375 million in this asset class.
Best investment consultant,
Competition in this field is tightening but Watson Wyatt remains the favourite among both pension funds and investment managers. Its annual measurement of investment performance survey remains the benchmark, and its ability to win crucial mandates such as Korea's National Pension Corporation extend its influence among the region's premier institutional investors.
Watson Wyatt won marks for superior resources to effectively research locally based managers as well as for lower than average turnover of senior consultants. In particular, it was preferred for its understanding of products in the marketplace, the consistency of its ability to monitor clients and managers, and its openness with opinions and feedback to managers.
Its challenge is to maintain this lead in the face of strong competition and three years of bear markets, which naturally test the advice of incumbents.
Tomorrow: hedge fund awards, best fund administrator, best prime brokerage, best agent securities lender, Communications Awards.