BlackRock was named asset manager of the year by AsianInvestor at last night's gala dinner for the industry, held at the Conrad Hotel in Hong Kong.
The past year has differentiated those with a true culture of risk management from the rest of the field. Indeed, sound risk management defined the handful of investment managers capable of protecting their clients from the worst effects of the downside and find alpha opportunities.
BlackRock is not only a money manager, but a provider of risk management and enterprise investment services, which have been at the heart of its own investment strategies since the firm was created in 1988. Last year it established a financial market advisory group for holders of distressed assets, to allow them to evaluate, hedge, manage and restructure their portfolios.
The firm has been active in partnering with clients to address the complex problems raised by the financial crisis. These include: managing and advising special purpose facilities for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; managing and structuring $22 billion notional of mortgage-backed securities from UBS Securities on behalf of institutional investors; providing valuation advice to Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group regarding a $9 billion equity investment in Morgan Stanley; and performing valuation and loss projections for over $3 trillion in distressed mortgage and structured financial portfolios on behalf of private and public institutions globally.
In short, BlackRock has been at the heart of the global financial crisis, neither as a cause nor a victim, but as a firm with the cutting-edge expertise and management to help investors survive and thrive.
Korea's National Pension Service, the fifth largest pension fund in the world, was named institutional investor of the year. NPS president and CEO Park Hae-choon flew to Hong Kong to accept the award on behalf of the organisation.
In a year when institutional investors faced huge losses on investments, the NPS has not only protected its capital but made a 5% net return on its assets in 2008. It made the decision to reallocate from international exposures to domestic fixed income in time to save itself from the worst effects of September and October of 2008, but in October it realised the incredible value on offer in the market and quickly moved into domestic corporate credit and international equities, moves that have brought handsome returns year-to-date.
It has also worked with strategic partners to continue to professionalise and upgrade its capabilities, both in investments and in risk management.
Goldman Sachs was named asset manager of the year for alternative investments. It is recognised for its global accomplishments across the field of alternative investing. Achievements include significant transactions such as its investments in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Suntech Power, both of which are in China, as well as a multitude of commercial property transactions in Japan. Goldman is among the world's biggest alternatives managers.
The firm has market leadership in the fields of distressed debt and private equity, including landmark local transactions in China, infrastructure and secondary private equity. Goldman Sachs Asset Management also has best-in-class products for hedge funds and funds of funds. What is more, even though 2008 was a challenging year for investing in general, Goldman Sachs remains rock solid.
HSBC Wealth Management was named distributor of the year, winning the inaugural award for this category. The past year has not been one in which banks distinguished themselves. On the contrary, most of them suffered black eyes from mis-selling structured products. HSBC avoided the excesses of this practice and notably avoided selling Lehman Brothers-backed Minibonds.
Lyxor Asset Management was named asset manager of the year for exchange-traded funds. Lyxor is a major player in Hong Kong and Singapore's ETF market. Thanks to its ability to cross-list its Ucits products, it is now responsible for around half the ETF listings in Hong Kong and Singapore, and is planning more launches. The daily turnover of its Asia-listed ETFs has more than trebled since 2007 to around $4 million per day. In Singapore, in particular, Lyxor's market share in daily ETF turnover jumped from 5% in 2007 to around 40% at present.