AsianInvestor named Shinkong Life Insurance its Institutional Investor of the Year at the magazineÆs fifth annual dinner celebrating its Achievement Awards on Friday, May 19 at the Conrad Hotel in Hong Kong. The magazine wishes to highlight ShinkongÆs disciplined, professional and innovative approach to investing in a difficult environment.

Victor Hsu, CFO at Shinkong, accepted the award on behalf of the company.

AsianInvestor also announced that Mercer Human Resources Consulting had won a competition sponsored by AsianInvestor to design Hong KongÆs future retirement system.

This is the third year that AsianInvestor magazine has named its Institutional Investor of the Year. The Hong Kong Jockey Club and KoreaÆs National Pension Corporation have also won this signature award.

This award is designed to recognise organisations that are raising the bar and promoting best international standards in the region. The magazine deemed Shinkong has taken the lead in successful asset management in a low-interest rate environment. It has promoted a disciplined approach to asset-liability management, and set up a tactical asset allocation team to find ways to reduce its negative spread while closing its duration gap.

This firm has developed sophisticated models to optimise performance in each of its asset classes, within a highly regulated environment. It emphasised stress testing and the use of complex financial technology. Last year it was a pioneer in the use of innovative CDO structures.

Many insurers and other institutions have adopted structured products but AsianInvestor fears that in some cases, they donÆt understand their liquidity risks. Structured products are an increasingly important allocation for many institutions. But Shinkong has been a leader not just in using these structures, but understanding them: for example, it has an in-house legal staff dedicated to going over these contracts line by line.

This follows a restructuring done to address the problem of negative spreads, which affects life insurers throughout the region. Shinkong took the initiative and was the first in Taiwan to build a reserve fund. It also split the function of CFO and CIO, with clearly segregated duties, and hired Ian Lui, a professional fund manager, to serve as the latter.

The magazine also announced the winner of its competition to design Hong KongÆs future retirement system. Phil Shirley submitted the paper on behalf of Mercer Human Resources Consulting, while Mercer Investment ConsultingÆs Alan Flynn was on hand at the awards dinner to accept the certificate for winning the competition.

Jonathan Watkin, director of AsianInvestorÆs conference business and an established figure in Hong KongÆs pensions industry, suggested the idea of a competition in order to facilitate a debate on what to do. The MPF has now reached five years of age, which AsianInvestor considers a good start but an inadequate solution to Hong KongÆs demographic situation.

The competition was done on a blind basis. Cynthia Chung at Deacons processed all of the submissions and passed them to AsianInvestor with all the names removed. Watkin and Jame DiBiasio, editor of AsianInvestor, along with Peter Wong and Anthony Griffiths, two other well-known figures in Hong KongÆs pensions world, evaluated seven entries. Details of the Mercer proposal will be available in the June edition of the magazine.

AsianInvestor is interested in organising a seminar to allow all those who submitted proposals to present their ideas, and to start a serious debate on what policies the government should consider. If any person or organization would like to participate in this, please contact Jonathan Watkin, at [email protected] and let him know your thoughts.