Over the course of this week we are announcing the winners of PensionsAsia magazine’s 2002 Awards of Achievement, honouring fund managers, consultants, hedge fund managers, fund administrators, securities lenders and prime brokers which lead the industry.

Singapore equities, one-year performance

Schroder Investment Management

Who knows Singapore equities? Schroders makes a convincing argument that says it does.

This venerable firm, one of Asia’s fund management pioneers, has been investing in Singapore since 1977 and now has over $800 million invested in the Lion City. Bolstering this effort is a massive local research capacity, which makes 133 company calls in Singapore each year.

Also impressive is the stability and experience of Schroders’ investment team. Its analysts have an average of eight years of investment experience, while the portfolio management team is led by Leong Wah-kheong, CIO, who has been with the firm for 16 years. His deputy, Robin Parbrook, has been with Schroders for 12 years. The Singapore Trust manager, Ng Soo-nam, has been with Schroders since 1995.

On top of this is the firm’s global capacity, including a global database of 1,500 companies, and a commitment to fundamental research and analysis.

Singapore equities, five-year risk-adjusted performance

Nomura Asset Management

Fund managers can tell us how wonderful they are, give us a whole song and dance routine, and we’ll listen. But at the end of the day, when someone is able to present us with enthusiastic clients, that really gets our attention.

Nomura barraged us with client testimonials and won the day. One Singaporean client, which has used Nomura since 1995, says, “We have continued to engage Nomura as our fund manager because of the experience and stability of their investment team; their good performance record; and clearly defined investment philosophy and process. We are also very pleased with the level of customer service provided by Nomura.”

A European pension fund says, “One factor that adds to our good impression is the stability of the investment team.”

Last, adds an international family trust: “In hard times, Nomura Asset Management has acted with the support of its Singapore entities ... diligently and has met our expectations over the years so that we are very happy to continue the relationship.”

Hong Kong equities, one-year performance

Credit Agricole Asset Management

We have been consistently impressed with this firm (formerly known as Indocam), which competed strongly in four asset categories for this year’s Achievement Awards – more than any other house. And in Hong Kong equities, Credit Agricole has demonstrated that extra flair needed to take the top spot – in this case beating fellow French outfit CDC IXIS AMA, which is the Asia ex-Japan asset management subsidiary of the Caisse des Depots et Consignations Group.

Credit Agricole focuses on bottom-up research, aided by an extensive local network. The firm has been operating in Hong Kong since 1982, and it has a stable investment team, with senior members averaging 12 years of investment experience. CIO Ayaz Ebrahim has been at the firm for 10 years, while its fund managers in Hong Kong and Singapore have been there for an average of seven years.

Its strategy last year of underweighting telecoms and overweighting large banks and property propelled its performance.

Moreover, a Hong Kong pension fund testified: “Credit Agricole has been the manager of our superannuation scheme of Hong Kong funds since 1 April 2001, and the performance for the past 11 months has been commendable, especially in the actively managed portfolio.”

Hong Kong equities, five-year risk-adjusted performance

Fidelity Investments

This was our most competitive award, with five other houses on our shortlist, whereas for other categories there tended to be only two or three standouts.

It was also one of the most difficult decisions to make, and in the end it came down to Fidelity and JF, two of the most influential fund management houses in Asia. We had to go with Fidelity.

This is due in part to a steady ‘bottom-up’ approach that the firm has followed since 1946. It is due also to its large on-the-ground presence of analysts and fund managers. The seven portfolio managers have an average 12 years of service with Fidelity, and the firm says no senior people have left the firm in the past three years. The overall impression, bucking the stereotype of the fickle American firm, is of patient commitment.

But JF can claim similar pedigrees. It practically invested fund management in Asia. Fidelity ultimately won because of its tremendous ability to grow its clientele. Last year it added 38 new clients from Hong Kong which gave the firm $177 million in assets. It lost seven clients here but they accounted for a loss of less than $1 million in assets combined – most of these were companies that went under, rather than disgruntled customers taking their funds elsewhere. Fidelity also provided a who’s who list of Hong Kong clients. It was hard to determine the winner of this award, but Fidelity has earned it.

 

Tomorrow we will announce the winners for Hong Kong stable growth and total plan mandates, as well as best investment consultant.

Awards are based on a combination of data supplied by Bank of Bermuda, Eureka Asia Hedge, Watson Wyatt and William M Mercer; by applications from nominees; and by the judgement of PensionsAsia’s editorial team. Decisions are solely those of PensionsAsia and are final.