Asia's top asset service providers for the year, explained part 1

AsianInvestor explains the rationale of the judging panel's selection of the winners for this batch of asset management awards.
Asia's top asset service providers for the year, explained part 1

AsianInvestor’s industry-leading Asset Management Awards are widely tracked by asset managers and asset service providers with a presence in Asia Pacific.

While the awards process has evolved through the years, the awards remain focused on picking the brightest and best stars in the region's asset management industry.

Our judging panel, comprising independent industry veterans and top executives from asset owners across the region, assessed all qualified entries and took the lead in providing valuable insights and guidance on shortlisting the best candidates.

The final entries were also assessed by the editorial team to eventually decide on the ultimate winners.

In this first installment, we explain the rationale behind the judges’ selection of some of the winners for the asset services awards.

AsianInvestor would like to take this opportunity to also say a big thank you to all the contestants. We were gratified to see the surge in entries this year – our highest since 2018.

The judges' panel as well as the editorial and awards teams had an intense couple of weeks going through all the entries. And it was well worth the effort because we had several strong pitches, all of which made for some stimulating and lively discussions between the judges, the editorial and awards team.

We would like to extend our deep gratitude to all our judges for their efforts and assessments of the entries. Their insights were invaluable in deciding the final winners across categories.

Best Audit & Compliance Advisor: EY

In what judges described as “an impressive CV for a successful year”, EY cemented its award-winning position with this stand-out submission.

The advisory already has more than 30 years’ experience providing tailored services in the region but has succeeded in expanding its base even further in 2023 with a strong commitment to innovation.

Advising on everything from fund tokenisation to carbon credit funds and OFC setup to the latest in blockchain development, EY continued to invest in people and technology to enhance its capabilities.

Innovations and best market practices over the award period included the development of tax calculation solutions, cybersecurity solutions, and AI applications.

It was the AI applications, in particular, that caught the eye of the AI judging panel who were impressed with the way EY has worked with investment managers to understand specific use cases that are set to drive the adoption of AI across the asset and wealth management (WAM) sector.

These included: research modelling - using AI to track and predict investment performance; portfolio modelling, using AI to track portfolio performance; and compliance rule coding – using AI to streamline compliance rule coding and analysis.

Add to this its industry-leading work in digital assets – its EY Blockchain Analyzer helped

audit teams to examine multi-cryptocurrency blockchain ledgers – and the advisory booked significant revenue growth in fiscal years 2023 and the first half of 2024.

Throughout the award period, EY registered high client retention and acquisition to maintain a commanding presence in audit and compliance services across APAC.

Best Bank for Cross-border Custody: BNY Mellon

BNY Mellon impressed judges with this submission which highlighted an exceptional performance and a strong commitment to innovation.

“There was such great detail on new products,” panel judges said.

Over the past few decades – and with an operation touching 20% of the world's investable assets - BNY Mellon's leadership in market advocacy has played a pivotal role in shaping the financial landscapes of key markets such as India and China.

In India, it successfully negotiated with the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to move the confirmation deadline to T+1 morning to ease clients’ cash liquidity.

In China, it was the first triparty agent to provide collateral services to support Stock Connect and Bond Connect assets, providing clients with cost-effective financing solutions to help optimise collateral allocation while complying with onshore Chinese regulations.

In 2023, it had two enhancements as the first global custodian to support:

  • Margin payments and withdrawals for commodity futures, commodity options and stock index options in China. Two clients went live with this in 2023.
  • Foreign investors participating in private placement notes in China’s Interbank Bond Markets.

Central to BNY Mellon's success was its emphasis on leveraging local relationships and insights to deliver value-added services to clients.

By staying attuned to market dynamics, BNY Mellon provided timely updates on critical events such as the Russia-Ukraine market crisis, earning plaudits from clients for its proactive approach and localised expertise.

“The positive feedback from our clients, appreciating both the quantity and content of our communications, demonstrated the effectiveness of our efforts in staying close to the market and leveraging our local expertise,” the advisory said in its submission.

Best Data & Technology Provider: Tradeweb

“Tradeweb seems to be taking over the world at the moment,” was all judges had to say about this submission which emerged as “an obvious champion” in a hotly contested awards segment.

Throughout 2023, Tradeweb supported more than 2,500 clients by providing a single point of access to the markets and instruments needed to navigate turbulent markets amid rapidly moving interest rates.

Connecting a global network of the world’s largest banks, asset managers, hedge funds, insurance companies, wealth managers and retail clients (and with leading offerings in rates, credit, money markets and equities) clients were able to access more than 50 products in more than 70 countries across the globe.

Tradeweb supports these clients throughout the trade lifecycle, including pre-trade, execution, post-trade and data.

The company's efforts to grow its presence in key regions – notably Australia through the acquisition of Yieldbroker and in China with the launch of Swap Connect - contributed to its overall strong business growth and market leadership in 2023.

The introduction of Swap Connect in China as an electronic trading channel for onshore CNY interest rate swaps, in particular, has facilitated greater access to liquidity and risk management tools.

Advancements in request-for-market (RFM) protocol and the development of the Automated Intelligent Execution (AiEX) tool has also boosted its status as the key mover in automating trading processes.

Tradeweb's initiative to provide comprehensive data on emerging market (EM) interest rate swaps has also enhanced transparency and market insight for clients.

Judges noted the platform was today “at the forefront of interest rate derivatives in China”.

Best Global Custodian for Asset Owners: Northern Trust

Northern Trust currently oversees an impressive US$11.9 trillion in assets under custody globally and posted a 43% increase in Asia Pacific (APAC) over the past 5 years, a testament to its competence in managing and safeguarding client investments.

All of this was not lost on judges who said Northern Trust continued to offer “great value for money” in a crowded space.

The Northern Trust submission was really great from an asset owner perspective,” judges said.

In the past fiscal year, the bank has not only attracted new business but has also achieved a remarkable 67% increase in gross additional business from existing clients across APAC.

Northern Trust in 2023 won more than 30 key mandates across a myriad of product lines including global custody, fund administration, integrated trading services, foreign exchange, hedge fund services and investment risk and analytical services.

In terms of technology and disruption, Northern Trust has re-calibrated its “buy vs. build vs. partner” equation, integrating a growing number of market-leading third-party technologies into its ecosystem of solutions.

With a single global system, its architecture supports all its business lines and distribution channels, providing a competitive edge in reconciliation, data quality, and expense management.

Its paced investment of $4.9 billion in tech over 2023-2025 so far includes a partnership with Lumint to enhance our FX Currency Management capabilities, and the integration of AcadiaSoft with its core derivatives engine to support Unclear Margin Rules (UMR) for OTC derivatives.

It has also launched a new business, Investment Data Science, which it has hailed as “a new way of viewing how asset servicers like Northern Trust can add value to the investment process”.

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