Last night AsianInvestor celebrated its sixth annual Service Provider Awards and announced its marquee award winners.
Jame DiBiasio, Editorial director of Haymarket Media, delivered the after-dinner speech, providing an Asian context to his customary humourous take on US and global politics.
The marquee awards went to Citi for asset services; Goldman Sachs for prime broking; Sidley Austin for legal services; and UBS for equities trading and execution.
As previously announced, individual awards went to Jeff Levy of Turiya Capital as buy-side COO of the year; and in the prime broking section Rebekah Pang of Newedge as best capital introductions specialist; Dagmar Baeuerle of Citi as best consultant; and Matt Kiraly of HSBC as best salesperson.
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
David Russell and his team have transformed the US bank’s business in Asia. Not everyone approves of Citi’s aggressive expansion, but its ambition has led to some landmark achievements as it leverages its on-the-ground franchise. While its assets under administration have risen 10% globally, in Asia Pacific the growth rate is 40% year-on-year. It has won a lion’s share of business, retaining and winning new clients. It has driven change through its advocacy efforts, notably working with the Indian government and regulators to effect market change. Late to the market in Australia, Citi has seen assets under custody there grow 66% since 2010 to $200 billion. In securities lending it has opened in three markets in the last 12 months. It has seen 30% growth in regional private equity assets under administration, expanding its client services and operations team and winning its first local hedge fund mandates in certain markets. Citi has grown its business with insurers, and seen a 20% rise in transaction volumes. It is supporting domestic fund platforms in Hong Kong ahead of the launch of the mutual recognition scheme with mainland China – one of the industry stories of the year. It has also been adding and transferring senior staff in Asia, and has enhanced its investor and intermediaries services suite. Competitive in categories in this process this year, Citi has earned the title this time round.
Prime Broker of the Year
The US bank has been running its prime brokerage business in Asia for the past 18 years, where it has maintained its position as the leading service provider in the sector. It has had continued post-crisis growth in mandates and assets under management, while several of its competitors have seen market share losses in the past year. The bank serves a broad spectrum of clients in Asia, from start-ups of all sizes to the most established hedge funds. It is willing to take on small, emerging managers that are most vulnerable to closure in the first two years after launch; this is a segment of the market that other primes are less inclined so serve. The average tenure of the entire Asia prime broking team is seven years, with senior management having been with the firm for an average of 17 years. This enables Goldman to stand out in an industry known for high turnover.
Legal Service Provider of the Year
Only the second time we have presented this marquee award, this year’s winner Sidley Austin was described by one prime broker as “hands down, the leader in terms of legal service providers in Hong Kong”. The US law firm poached the highly regarded Ho Han Ming and his team of five earlier this year from rivals Clifford Chance, winners of this award in 2012. The swoop followed Sidley winning a licence to practice Singapore law. It has added three more partners and worked on a large proportion of the region’s biggest hedge fund launches. It has also won business from Japan-focused strategies in Singapore, represented several US hedge fund managers on placing hedge fund securities, and been appointed to work on infrastructure-focused vehicles, a rising trend, as well as private equity and real estate funds.
Broker of the Year
The year 2013 saw equities trading flow follow an almost bipolar pattern. For the first half, investors were keen not only on the Japanese market, but their appetite for risk saw them focus on emerging markets in Southeast Asia. That changed in June after Ben Bernanke raised the prospect that the US Federal Reserve would taper its quantitative easing programme. Subsequently flows headed out of emerging markets and into North Asia, notably Korea. But with its broad footprint, clients praised UBS for providing direct access to markets such as Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia. They also complimented their sales-traders for offering a suite of technology and algorithms to help achieve best execution. UBS has demonstrated thoughtfulness in growing its business as a global, full-service broker. One example is how it separated clients seeking long-only block liquidity from those seeking best price regardless of who they trade with, putting them into two distinct internal crossing pools. Such segregation does away with the need to police the pool, and was appreciated. UBS retains its title from last year.