Last night AsianInvestor held a celebratory dinner for its 14th annual Asset Management Awards process. We consolidated our process this year, combining awards for service providers with those for investment managers.
A total of four awards were announced on the night, three of which were marquees. Here we reveal who won those gongs, and why.
Chris Pearce of Marshall Wace in Hong Kong picked up COO of the Year, while in the marquee section State Street was selected as Service Provider of the Year; Eastspring Investments picked up Asian Fund House of the Year; and Goldman Sachs Asset Management won Asset Manager of the Year.
We will feature a detailed write-up on all our award winners in the forthcoming June edition of AsianInvestor magazine. Many congratulations to all our award winners.
COO of the year
Chris Pearce, Marshall Wace
Progressive is the word to describe Marshall Wace and its chief operating officer, Chris Pearce, who has worked at the firm since 2006. It seeks to be innovative in the way it works with prime brokers to operate on a bigger scale more efficiently, with a system that enables it to trade in high volumes across markets from Japan to India. Its Alpha Catcher funds take information on portfolios that are performing and trade off the back of that. Marshall Wace has added a block-crossing book and runs its own algorithms and dark-pool strategies. It has introduced post-trade analysis and taken perceived favouritism out of the equation, as part of its best execution policy. In short, what it has is market-leading. Pearce continues to push boundaries and come up with new ideas, raising the bar. Moreover, as global director of the Alternative Investment Management Association, he gives back to the industry, seeking to provide a valuable global insight out of Hong Kong. A universal choice among brokers, Pearce has earned our COO of the Year title.
Asset service provider of the year
Competition between service providers was fierce in 2014, with multiple firms securing big client wins and business growth. But to deserve this marquee recognition, a company needs to have performed well across all measurement criteria. State Street had some big client wins, and it was innovative, showed leadership and had a clear strategy in data and technology. Assets under custody rose 15% year on year to $1.28 trillion. The firm gained 19 new clients for 236 new funds regionwide and added $19 billion to its lendable asset base. In common with some of its competitors and under the leadership of Kevin Wong, head of sector solutions, State Street has shown an ability to adapt its enterprise to a changing market, integrating business units while developing distinct solutions. It has worked closely with Harvard, MIT and Berkeley in developing big-data solutions for portfolio managers and asset owners. This award is a reflection of a successful year for State Street.
Asia fund house of the year
AsianInvestor saw an unprecedented level of entries for its awards this year, and the competitive standard was the highest we have seen. There were some outstanding entries. But Eastspring Investments had a year like no other. It smashed its record for fundraising. While this was retail focused and the firm’s local manufacturing team launched a lot of new products, it delivered performance and innovation across asset classes. Risk-on was back, with multiple Eastspring equities strategies performing well, notably in Japan, India, Korea and Malaysia. At the same time it catered to demand for income-generating strategies, driving flows to fixed income, Asian equity income and dividend-paying multi-asset product. Further, institutional clients from both Europe and Asia awarded new and top-up mandates to Eastspring’s teams in Singapore, Malaysia and Japan across a range of fixed income and equity strategies. What enabled Eastspring to beat competitors was its combination of performance, product delivery, product innovation and balanced expansion. In Singapore last year it was one of the first managers to adopt the CFA Institute’s code of professional conduct as well as sign up to Japan’s stewardship code. This reinforced its commitment to raise the bar for the industry as a whole.
Asset manager of the year
Goldman Sachs Asset Management
Asset management is an evolutionary industry that is challenging all fund houses to reinvent themselves to remain relevant. We believe 2014 was a defining year for Goldman Sachs Asset Management, building on its business transformation of the previous two years. An institutionally-focused firm, GSAM used to talk to clients predominantly about private-equity-type solutions, but it has moved beyond that now to offer holistic asset management, leveraging its global capabilities in the process. It demonstrated its ability to customise solutions, not only in investment, but also risk management, technology and training. And bear in mind that it is servicing the most demanding clients in the market. The diversity of its mandate wins across asset classes in 2014 spoke volumes about the breadth and depth of its business. Its AUM grew almost 9% without a blockbuster product. It won 33 new clients across North, South and Southeast Asia and achieved a number of firsts, whether winning insurance business in China and Thailand or global alternatives in Taiwan. Importantly, it won back institutional business in Korea, a market where it withdrew its onshore presence in challenging circumstances several years ago, showcasing its resilience. In terms of innovation, it worked with the Indian government on a divestment programme to launch a groundbreaking ETF that was a huge success and instantly transformed the domestic market. GSAM also saw $1 billion in net inflows in the retail markets of Asia ex-Japan and has further plans to diversify in this segment. Given its strength in distribution and adaptability, we wouldn’t bet against it.