Since its launch a decade ago, the AsianInvestor Asset Management Awards have become an industry leader, sought after by the largest asset managers with a presence in Asia Pacific.
The awards have evolved through the years. While they used to be selected solely by the editorial team, we now tap the knowledge and expertise of a judging panel comprising independent industry veterans and top executives from asset owners across the region to bring greater weight to our awards procedure.
We have also developed more specific criteria with a points system to guide entries and allow for a more structured and transparent process.
Today we reveal the rationale behind the judges' selection of marquee winners for Asia Fund House of the Year, Asset Manager of the Year, Asset Service Provider of the Year, Best Business Development, and Best Institutional Product/Strategy, which we had announced in April.
The criteria for this category included business growth in 2021 particularly with institutional clients; sophistication evolution such as new markets, products or mandates; and key innovations in areas such as services and technology. As with all our awards, client testimonials and case studies were given some weight in the decision process as well.
Congratulations again to all winners.
Asia Fund House of the Year
CSOP Asset Management Limited, Hong Kong
CSOP’s assets under management grew by 11.9% year-on-year in what was indisputably a turbulent market.
This growth came through three major streams: cross-border flows from domestic China through the ETF cross-listing scheme HSTECH ETF; local institutions that invested into its China onshore fixed income ETFs; and continuous inflows into China onshore fixed income ETFs in Singapore from South East Asian investors.
Its flagship products saw sizable inflows from both institutional and retail investors in different markets and the client base increased significantly thanks to the geographic expansion in terms of both products and business development activities.
However, it was in new products that CSOP excelled and overall judges were impressed by the range and scope of what was on offer.
“CSOP dominates the ETF market for China exposure equities and we could see lots of new products generated by CSOP,” judges commented on the CSOP submission.
Going forward, CSOP plans to bring even more products to global investors and has identified leveraged and inverse products (L&I) as a target.
“We also expect more China thematic products in Hong Kong and SPG to fill the gap,” CSOP says. “Besides that, a wide diversity of fixed income products is also in the pipeline to list in Singapore to meet the increasing investment demands in the region. “
Following the frontier trends in asset management, the fund also aims to boost its offerings in securities lending and swaps.
Asset Manager of the Year
Asset Management One Co., Ltd
Strong results and a huge push on sustainability in 2021 made AMO the strongest entry for Asset Manager of the year.
AMO expanded across all of its AUMs, returns, and number of clients in its institutional businesses. Its AUM increased 7.8% from 2020 to reach $511 billion at the end of 2021.
In terms of business for institutional investors, the AUM expanded 8% to achieve $249 billion. This increase was largely due to the pension sector in Japan, with an increase of 13.4%, accounting for 64% of the overall increase in the companywide AUM.
The number of institutional clients also increased by 21, taking the total of AMO’s institutional clients to approximately 600.But it was the resources that AMO put into ESG that judges found the most encouraging.
Its Sustainability Transformation (SX) initiative - using the Sustainability Report - led to new mandates worth $403 million for its ESG-related products.
The Sustainability Report, published in October 2021, presents AMO’s policies, processes and activities to promote and drive SX through its stewardship commitment to clients and beneficiaries.
With a strong commitment to putting sustainability into practice across all aspects of management and investment, AMO’s sales representatives engaged more than 300 institutional clients to deepen client understanding of its ESG-related products.
Its flagship fund, the $87 million Japanese Equity ESG Focus Fund and its $261 million of MSCI ACWI Climate Paris Aligned Index Fund were just two of its success stories in 2021.
Asset Service Provider of the Year
BNP Paribas, Hong Kong
Despite being a new entrant to Asia, business growth at BNP Paribas was outstanding in 2020.
Amid shrinking regional revenue pools, it consistently outperformed its peers. Market executions in its largest markets grew massively and the figures were highly impressive.
In Australia, assets under custody (AUC) grew 372% (the market grew +3.8%) and its sub-custody ranking moved from number 5 to number 4. Transaction volume growth at 144% took it from number 4 to number 3. And all this in just one year.
APAC growth helped BNP Paribas to overtake Citi to become the number 4 largest custodian globally (by revenue). It retained leadership position on sell-side and was number 1 for third party clearing. It also onboarded a record number of new clients in 2021.
Other notches on the belt included a China QFI licence, allowing it to support all of the access schemes. It was the first time a bank was granted a QFI licence since 2015.
It onboarded new clients from Deutsche Bank’s global prime finance and electronic equities deal resulting in significant volume increases and allowing it to provide a fully integrated front-to-back offering for clients.
It also had tremendous success in winning the biggest Singapore VCC mandates. Other publicly announced VCC wins included Indea Capital, First Plus, CSOP and Kamet.
“A lot of impressive business growth figures and new mandates!,” said judges in awarding this submission. “A wide range of capabilities offered to both buy side and sell side clients. The client testimonials were selected thoughtfully.”
Best Business Development
SSI Asset Management Co., Ltd. Vietnam
This submission gave a nice glimpse into how it’s done in emerging markets and the judges comment said it all.
“Strong growth from a low base,” judges said. “Impressive with broad growth and cross markets initiatives in a relatively less advanced market.”
Assets under management grew from VND6,669 (US$285 million) to VND 12,938. This broke forecasts by 2% in what was a difficult year of lockdowns in Vietnam.
While new fund activity wasn’t exactly explosive – SSIAM managed to get just two new funds off the ground - existing funds experienced massive growth driven by the exponential increase of investors participating in funds and positive market growth momentum.
Notably, the key contributors included its SSIAM VNFIN LEAD ETF (accounting for 37.5% of AUM), SSI Bond Fund – SSIBF (accounting for 10.5% of AUM), it ILP products (15.5%) and private wealth management (16.4%).
In terms of institutional and retail composition, institutional investors accounted for 67.82% of total AUM, and retail investors account for 32.18%.
The majority of retail investors were Vietnamese locals who invest in mutual funds; while ETFs tended to draw attention from foreign institutional investors. For instance, its SSIAM VNFIN LEAD ETF, institutional investors hold 98.65% of the fund’s AUM.
SSIAM has been active in attracting foreign investment in Vietnam, having partnered with Trinity Securities Thailand over several years to promote Thai investment in our SSI-SCA equity fund.
During the year, it also partnered with SK Group from South Korea to develop a private equity structure to invest in firms that are in the early stages of tech development.
Best Institutional Product/Strategy
ABL Aviation, Hong Kong
In a Covid year where most of the world’s aircraft either had engine covers on the tarmac or were sent into storage in the Australia Outback, aircraft finance group ABL Aviation managed to keep aloft.
Despite a very turbulent year, ABL Aviation’s (ABL) deal flow asset value topped $1 billion for the first time in 2021 as the business continued its strong growth trajectory in line with growing institutional demand for aircraft investment.
Ultimately, ABL managed to close $1.2 billion worth of aircraft in 2021, representing 48% growth on the previous calendar year.
“A boutique manager and a very niche product, but a very convincing story,” AI’s judges said of the submission.
This healthy capital deployment was due to ABL’s deep-rooted ties with airlines as leading international investment firms sought opportunities in a sector set for growth as global economies rebound.
Its proficiency in sourcing and managing complex transactions across a range of jurisdictions, asset types and ages led to 17 aviation transactions since the onset of the pandemic with the likes of El Al, Pegasus, Delta, and Alaska Airlines.
In April 2021, ABL Aviation closed a Lufthansa deal in 20 days – an exceptionally short timing.
In November 2021, ABL Aviation signed a joint venture with Ellington Management Group, an alternative investment manager, to opportunistically deploy capital across the global aviation industry and provide exposure to directly sourced deals.
This joint venture targets $800 million in aircraft assets and adds to strategic partnerships held by ABL.