AsianInvestor's best stories of 2023: A year in review

AsianInvestor presents the best asset owner interviews and market-leading trend stories of the year.
AsianInvestor's best stories of 2023: A year in review

Financial market shocks. New regulations. Alternative investments. Family offices. Decarbonisation.  Going global. Going local.

These were just some of the topics that AsianInvestor's editorial team covered throughout 2023. 

We had the privilege of speaking to a vast array of senior executives from pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, insurers, family offices, endowments and foundations and getting their views and itopics such as asset allocation to sustainability initiatives. 

We made strong progress in reaching out to several new asset owners during the year and relentlessly stayed on top of market and regulatory developments via regional industry stories.

Here is a showcase of some our best work during the year. 

AsianInvestor reveals the top 20 pension executives in Asia

Our leading editorial project in 2023 was the Top 20 pension executives in Asia list.

The project highlighted the individuals who stood out for helping drive Asia’s pensions industry forward by improving the investment processes, operations and accessibility of funds.

The list of outstanding individuals came from pension funds headquartered in the region as well as some international pension fund executives because of their strong influence in the region and the sophistication of their operations.

Asian family offices explore options to replace Credit Suisse

One of the biggest events to rock financial markets early in 2023 was the shock collapse of Credit Suisse and its rescue merger with UBS.

The merger brought into focus the risk of many of the region’s richest families having to place all their assets in the hands of one mega wealth manager and the subsequent search for an alternative to Credit Suisse.

Our coverage of this topic also won a commendation at the State Street Institutional Press Awards.

Singapore anti-money laundering rules to raise bar for family offices

Singapore family offices were in the news almost throughout the year, especially as more regulations were brought in after a money-laundering scandal enmeshed some family offices operating in the city state.

The central bank's proposed anti-money laundering requirements announced mid-year represented not just a tightening of standards when it came to questionable money, but also a means by which the central bank could improve its general oversight of the booming single family office sector.

This was our most-read story of 2023.

Singapore family offices look to consolidate amid regulatory pressures

After stricter tax and anti-money laundering regulations were imposed mid-year by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, many family offices started to assess sharing operational resources or mergers.

“Mergers and acquisitions in the family office space have already begun but we will really see things ramp up in 2024, particularly with the recent changes in requirements for FOs in Singapore to qualify for tax incentives and the increase in regulatory scrutiny,” Cameron Harvey, CEO of Landmark Family office an Asia focused multi-family office, told AsianInvestor.

Taiwan’s BLF shakes up management in bid to rebuild trust

Another crisis- and change-management story came from Taiwan's Bureau of Labor Funds, which after a challenging few years, instituted wide-ranging reforms to its staff structure and contractual terms.

The new director general spoke to AsianInvestor about how the $201 billion pension fund was seeking to regain public trust following a bribery scandal through a comprehensive series of measures across departments.

“We gained public attention due to a certain incident. Now two years have passed, and we’ve learnt our lessons,” said Yu-Ching Su, BLF’s director general, in an exclusive interview with AsianInvestor.

Su is also one of AsianInvestor's Top 20 pension executives in Asia.

The Bollywood star who launched a family office

Family offices, without doubt, were a hot topic within the asset owner industry in 2023.

Everything from evolving regulations to industry and hiring trends were avidly read by our subscribers.

This was AsianInvestor’s first interview with the family office of an Indian movie star.

Vivek Anand Oberoi, Bollywood actor and chair of Oberoi Family Office, which he started 9 years, shared exclusive details of how the family office made its investments.

This was our second-most read story of 2023.

Malaysia's KWAP looks to private credit after private equity boost

Private market investments were in focus for several asset owners in 2023, and Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP) was a good example.

Malaysia’s federal employees’ pension fund said it is looking to add private credit investments to its portfolio holdings, after a revamp of its strategic asset allocation and approval to invest in private credit as a sub-asset class.

"In the last 8 months [we have] been educating ourselves on the subject, meeting major global private credit GPs,” Hazman Hilmi Sallahuddin, chief investment officer at KWAP, told AsianInvestor.

Sallahuddin also featured in our Top 20 pension executives in Asia list.

Indonesia pension fund keen to raise PE allocations

This was AsianInvestor’s first interview with Indonesia’s social security fund, BPJS Ketenagakerjaan, which revealed that it is keen to add to its direct investments, especially local private equity.

This story was highly commended in the State Stree Institutional Press Awards.

Edwin Ridwan, director of investment development, was also one of AsianInvestor's Top 20 pension executives in Asia

Japan's Kewpie Pension Fund to focus on equities and fixed income

The corporate retirement fund for the food manufacturer best known for its mayonnaise manages two funds with total assets under management of around $495 million.

Strong performance in some asset classes nudged the pension fund to focus more on investments into equities and fixed income in the near term.

“Although we have gotten extra bandwidth from the board investment committee to go beyond target portfolio composition, we are looking to allocate more to fixed income to rebalance,” Kosuke Okimori, managing director at Kewpie Pension Fund, told AsianInvestor.

Australian pension funds go global in search of assets

One interesting and emerging trend was that of Australian super funds, which typically focus on their home market, looking to expand overseas.

Part of the push comes from the high growth rate of Australia’s pension system, which has expanded by over 630% from 2002 to 2022.

That kind of growth is exceeding the investment opportunities within local boundaries, pushing funds to actively look for opportunities in international markets.

This story dived into the asset classes that Australian super funds are exploring overseas and the locations they are doing it from.

APG sees local presence as crucial for growth in Asia

Other asset owners, meanwhile, focused on becoming more local.

“An important part of the asset management business is getting a perspective from the ground, because more often than not it’s very different from the outside view,” Thijs Aaten CEO of APG Asset Management Asia told AsianInvestor.

APG has been rapidly increasing its regional capabilities across the board and its Asian investment headcount has more than doubled since Aaten relocated to the Hong Kong office just over four and a half years ago.

This story also marks Aaten's first media interview following his appointment to chief executive  of APG's Asia operations.

Temasek-backed Pentagreen eyes zero-carbon infra projects

Finally, sustainable investments also got a big leg-up in 2023 as asset owners became more serious about being seen as responsible investors, especially amid rising regulatory requirements.

Pentagreen Capital, backed by Temasek and HSBC, said it is setting its sights on zero-carbon infrastructure projects as Singapore makes a bid to become the sustainability hub in Asia.

“We are also exploring other types of assets, such as green data centres, nature-based solutions, and adaptation capex," CEO Marat Zapparov told AsianInvestor.

NZ Super CEO: Decarbonising portfolios won't change real-world outcomes

Amid the rush to be sustainable and get on the decarbonisation bandwagon, outgoing CEO of the New Zealand Super Fund, Matt Whineray, reminded investors that the economic status quo goes against progress in the energy transition space -- and that needs to change. 

He asked investors to consider this question: is investment activity by large asset owners sufficient to drive the changes needed in decarbonisation?

“Voluntary acts by investors and companies like us are a great start. But decarbonising our portfolio through changing the make-up of the global equities portion — while it reduces our exposure to this risk — won’t do much to change the real-world outcome: we need new capital to flow to funding the transition, and we need governments and regulators to act as well.”

It was a timely reminder for investors.

Rockefeller Foundation champions catalytic capital's impact

Amid the growing urgency to tackle climate change and social issues in Asia, one of the largest foundations in the world, The Rockefeller Foundation, said it is keen to encourage all forms of capital to scale up investing with impact even as it drives catalytic capital growth.

“The Rockefeller Foundation's programmatic investments seek to demonstrate the potential of catalytic capital," said Deepali Khanna, vice president, Asia regional office of The Rockefeller Foundation.

The story discussed how the foundation makes investments and what its current priorities are.

And with this, we close our news coverage for 2023.

Thank you to all our readers for reading our stories and subscribing to our news service.

We hope to keep up the momentum in 2024 and provide timely and insightful coverage of the institutional investment industry. 

We wish our readers a happy holiday season.

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