AsianInvestor conducted a recent project to identify the most influential protagonists in fund selection and distribution in Hong Kong and Singapore. You can find more background on the project by clicking here.
Here we unveil the 20th and 21st gatekeepers on the list, which is ordered alphabetically. We have already published write-ups for numbers one to 19 (see the list at the end of this article). The full feature appears in the November issue of AsianInvestor magazine.
Chief executive, Sun Life Asset Management (Hong Kong)
After arriving at Sun Life Hong Kong in 2013, Stanley Ngan was handed a dual role: to build the Canadian insurer’s asset management business and to manage the funds platform of the investment-linked product unit.
Sun Life’s fund platform has about 100 funds, and its investment-linked business has grown to $1.3 billion in assets sourced from Hong Kong clients.
While its headquarters in Canada provides due diligence, Ngan’s team has autonomy on fund selection and investment ideas.
Moreover, Ngan’s role as a fund selector for the Sun Life group is about to become bigger. The insurer has set up an asset management arm that will offer fund-of-funds capability to Hong Kong retail investors.
“The approach we take differs from traditional fund managers who invest directly in stocks and bonds,” Ngan says. “We’ll select managers because we believe each manager has its own style and that each performs differently depending on market conditions. As such, a multi-manager approach can help achieve sustainable performance over the long term.”
The asset management arm is set to launch its first fund-of-funds vehicle pending regulatory approval.
Prior to Sun Life, Ngan was head of fund analysis and selection for Asia Pacific at UBS Wealth Management.
His advice to providers is to show how their funds add value to investors. “Value can be in many forms: outperformance, low cost, giving access to another market. Every fund house has to think how they position their product to add value,” he says.
Head of managed products and solutions, Barclays Wealth and Investment Management
Fund selection is handled at Barclays Wealth by two due diligence teams based in London, one focused on investment and the other on operations.
But since Herbert Suen joined in Hong Kong a year-and-a-half ago he has established communication lines with them to enable his team to add funds where Barclays sees demand among Asian clients.
Where Suen has most influence is asset flows, picking the products his team will distribute in Asia and working with the bank’s 100 relationship managers across Hong Kong and Singapore.
The firm’s global recommendation list has about 100 funds, with 35-40 for Asia. At any point Suen’s team focus on a subset of 10 to 15, which capture the majority of flows.
The fund model at Barclays Asia used to be biased towards reverse enquiry/execution-only transactions, as opposed to providing advisory.
But Suen estimates he meets 10 to 20 fund managers a month to keep himself updated on trends and developments. The penetration of funds provided by the bank has risen.
“We spend time looking at a client’s overall portfolio, to determine the positioning of a fund,” Suen says. “What aspect matters more to the client? Is it total return, income distribution, liquidity terms? Product push simply doesn’t work long term.”
A movie enthusiast, Suen observes that some providers are better prepared than others and are aware how to position their funds with an appreciation of Barclays’ due diligence process in London.
“Others try to figure out their funds on our recommendation list, and some just focus on areas that they see other banks in Asia interested in,” he observes.
The other individuals identified from the list so far: