AsianInvestor magazine has named the Hong Kong Jockey Club as Institutional Investor of the Year. The award was announced at the magazine's third annual black-tie dinner celebrating its 2004 Achievement Awards for fund management.

Paulus Lee, executive director for finance at the Jockey Club, accepted the award on behalf of the organization and his investment team, led by treasurer Jacob Tsang.

Although this was AsianInvestor's third awards dinner, it was the first time the magazine had given an award to an institutional investor.

Jame DiBiasio, editor of AsianInvestor, says, "Unlike our fund management awards, the process behind the Institutional Investor of the Year award should not be viewed as a competition or a race. Institutions come in all shapes and sizes and we're not trying to stuff them all into a simple box. The purpose of this award is to recognize excellence, and to highlight best practices and, we hope, raise the bar for the entire investment community in the region.

"There are many obvious, or perhaps I should say simplistic, reasons to recognize the achievements of the Jockey Club. The organization has pushed the industry toward best practices for the past decade, starting in the early 1990s when it insisted on developing its own benchmarks to meet its unique liabilities, instead of relying on fund managers. A more recent example is its foray into hedge funds.

"But these do not, in themselves, make the Jockey Club a model for other institutions. Investors have their own needs and appropriate methods of managing assets. These accomplishments are instead the manifestation of good corporate governance and a professional, disciplined approach that is shared by the Jockey Club's management and its trustees.

"Nor is this a matter of fund size. The Jockey Club is indeed one of Hong Kong's larger institutional investors. But it has a variety of obligations, and its total asset pool is divided into a wide range of buckets with unique liabilities, unlike smaller institutions with a single focus. Although scale can be an advantage, what really counts is understanding what the fund's objectives are and clearly communicating that with both your trustees and service providers."

A conversation with Paulus Lee will appear in the June/July issue of AsianInvestor.