AsianInvestor’s second annual Institutional Excellence Awards were introduced to highlight best practice, with awards handed out in 17 categories.

The National University of Singapore (NUS) demonstrated the strength of its internal investment office and operational due diligence to be named endowment fund of the year.

The winners were announced on October 30 and received their awards at an exclusive ceremony and dinner on December 2 at The South Beach hotel in Singapore. 

We thank all those who contributed their thoughts to these awards. The full list of write-ups appears in the December issue of AsianInvestor magazine, and more details of our decision-making process can be found here.

Endowment
National University of SIngapore

Since the NUS outsources most of its investment management, the strength of the internal investment office is manager selection.

It runs a well-diversified portfolio across public and private equities, real estate, commodities and fixed income managers, with a large allocation to alternatives.

In addition, a direct investment team was recently put in place to focus on co-investments with external managers and trusted partners.

NUS prides itself on the experience of its in-house portfolio managers, with backgrounds ranging from hedge funds to sovereign wealth funds. It has nine senior personnel occupying portfolio management, monitoring and compliance. This group has remained intact since inception of the investment office in 2005.

After the 2008 financial crisis, NUS maintained its allocation to private equity and hedge funds and backed its high-conviction managers. Its private equity allocation has continued to increase in alignment with the fund’s long-term target allocation.

In 2012 NUS began to allocate based on the way different assets respond to different economic scenarios, which it has found integrates well with its approach to risk management.

One of its processes that stand out is operational due diligence on managers, which is conducted on an on-going basis. Fund managers are assessed on key risk elements to ensure they operate under a sound governance and operational structure.

NUS is not afraid to seed new managers, and through the experiences gained in operational due diligence work is able to assist potential boutique fund managers in improving and institutionalising their governance and internal controls.  

As part of its risk assessment process, NUS uses a sophisticated data management system, and is continuously exploring new ways to improve its portfolio monitoring and processing through the use of technology.

Winners previously unveiled:

Reserves manager: Monetary Authority of Singapore

Sovereign wealth fund: GIC

Insurance company (general account): Ping An Life  

Public pension fund: Bureau of Labor Funds

Private pension fund 2015: Jardine Matheson