BNY Mellon, Deutsche, Clifford Chance and UBS on top

Last night AsianInvestor announced the winners of its marquee Service Provider Awards for 2012, including the top awards in asset services, prime broking, legal services and equities trading.
BNY Mellon, Deutsche, Clifford Chance and UBS on top

Last night AsianInvestor celebrated its fifth annual Service Provider Awards and announced its marquee award winners. Ken Tam, managing director at JP Morgan Asset Management, delivered the after-dinner speech outlining the future of the investments industry in Asia and the way service providers can work to support it.

The marquee awards went to Bank of New York Mellon, for asset services; Deutsche Bank, for prime broking; Clifford Chance, for legal services; and UBS for equities trading and execution.

Individual awards went to Mrugank Paranjape at Deutsche Bank as custodian banker of the year. As previously announced, Dean Chisholm of Invesco was named buy-side COO of the year and Sam Kim of BlackRock was named buy-side trader of the year. Write-ups of all the winners and photos from the awards dinner will appear in the December edition of AsianInvestor magazine.

Asset service provider of the year
Custody has probably never seen more change than in the past few years. The global financial crisis created massive upheavals in core aspects of servicing assets, and the regulatory and market response is reshaping the world. Funding needs of financial institutions, the lifeblood of global capitalism, are being upended.

At the same time, Asian investors, particularly on the institutional side, are entering this global ecosystem for the first time, requiring a level of service and safety that isn’t called for in developed Western markets. Custody is a balance between innovation and being extremely fastidious.

This year’s award goes to a bank that has seen its Asia-Pacific assets under custody rise by nearly 8% year-on-year, on the back of innovative work in fields such as collateral management, securities lending, transition management and hedge-fund servicing.

Yet BNY Mellon’s hallmark has been reliability. It helps that custody has always been a core part of its identity, rather than an appendage to an investment bank.

Prime broker of the year
Deutsche Bank’s capability to service Asian hedge funds across a wide spectrum of strategies is reflected among its client base which ranges from CTA/quant, hybrid private equity/hedge, event-driven, macro, multi-strategy and long/short equity.

It also broadly services Asian hedge funds ranging from small strategies launching in the $20 million range, through to multibillion-dollar funds.

According to market surveys, Deutsche Bank had the greatest number of sole mandates in Asia among all prime brokerages as of April. It is also the leader in market share by AUM in the crucial Hong Kong/China hedge fund market, with $8.6 billion.

Its capability and willingness to serve a broad range of Asian funds – including mainland China managers – in terms of size and strategy reflects the state of the maturing industry, which is diversifying to attract investment into the region.

Law firm of the year
For law firms servicing the investment industry, the past year or so has been about the ability to provide strong advice across the board on local and extra-territorial regulation. That is true for hedge fund, private equity, real estate, mutual and exchange-traded fund managers.

Clifford Chance’s 30-strong investment funds team – across Hong Kong, China, Australia, Japan and Singapore – has long been one of the most respected in the region. And this year it was cited more than any other firm by clients from all types of fund house as having provided the best service.

It has seen an increase in market share of work on the rising tide of China PE funds, and has been heavily involved in advising on QFII/RQFII schemes and Shanghai's QFLP regime.

In Singapore, Clifford Chance’s widely acknowledged strength has also proved a major advantage, given the arrival of new laws or proposals – notably the fund manager regime and the Financial Advisory Industry Review.

Broker of the year, Asian equities
UBS scored well on our survey of buy-side traders across the board: among hedge funds and long-only accounts, in program trading, sales trading, electronic trading, and in its regional coverage.

Despite adverse conditions, it has maintained its commitment to the business. Its research is well regarded. Its dark pools have probably the best approach to safeguarding client flows. Its sales trading team has been best positioned to catch the trend of activity migrating to Southeast Asian markets. As of the time of the pitches, UBS had been adding headcount in key areas, notably sales trading.

After making our decision, the bank announced a series of drastic cuts. It remains to be seen whether this will impact all of the good things just mentioned. But that is a challenge for 2013.

Custodian banker of the year
Deutsche Bank’s direct custody business has been on a roll throughout the region, from India to Taiwan and, of course, Southeast Asia. Mrugank Paranjape, or 'MP', as he’s known, has overseen a quality franchise extend its business to a number of important wins and generate innovative solutions for asset managers and asset owners from around the region.

He has been in the MD role for Asian transaction banking for less than two years, and in that time we have noticed a marked uptick in the bank’s positioning and client wins. MP has two decades of experience in the business, including roles on the buy- and sell-sides, as well as 14 years in operations and technology. He has also recently added trust, securities services and cash management to his remit.

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