For investors and asset managers, 2020 will probably be one of the most memorable years following the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. It started with a lot of promise and opportunities until Covid-19 hit, bringing with it much fear and uncertainty.
The stock markets were in a bullish trend at the beginning of the year but crashed in the February-April period as the pandemic spread across the world.
But for investors and fund managers, the lockdowns and quarantines that were implemented to control the pandemic turned out to be a blessing as the work-from-home environment coupled with increased technological connectivity via the internet gave everyone more time to devote to their portfolios.
By mid-year, a generally positive outlook has emerged in the investment community as governments and central banks quickly responded to the crisis by pumping huge amounts of cash to revive the global economy.
The promise that vaccines being developed at the time would soon be widely available added to the generally positive mood that lifted the market out of one of the shortest bear markets in recent history beginning in February 20 and ending on April 7. Except for a brief correction in September the market has never looked back and was back to its bullish trend going into 2021.
For many investors and fund managers, the drop in stock prices in February and March presented buying opportunities which later paid off as the market rebounded. Those who were able to quickly respond to the volatile situation by de-risking their portfolios during the bear market and rebuilding them back to add more risk assets during the market upturn benefited tremendously.
In Asia, the strong performance of the China market in the second half of 2020 fuelled many portfolios to record performances. Most of the major economies in the region were relatively successful in handling the pandemic in the latter part of the year, adding to the overall positive investment sentiment.
While 2021 is presenting new challenges with the coronavirus taking a turn for the worse in India, for example, and violence erupting in the Middle East, market sentiment remains bullish.
It is in this context that we announce the winners of The Asset Triple A Investor and Fund Manager Awards 2021.
Investor of the Year
Pension Fund of the Year, Asia
National Pension Service
The National Pension Service (NPS) of Korea recorded 807.3 trillion won (US$713 billion) in its reserve fund as of end-November 2020, a 9.6% increase from December 2019. The solid performance comes from a net increase in contributions and investment gains. In 2020 NPS announced a plan to achieve 1,000 trillion won in AUM and invest 50% of its assets in global investment. It is also expanding its alternative investment allocation, expanding overseas offices, and streamlining the decision-making process for alternative investments. NPS also established a global real estate joint venture fund worth 2.8 trillion won with the world’s largest real estate investor Allianz Group in June 2020, and formed a partnership with a Dutch pension fund APG and co-invested in Europe and pan-Asia in October 2020.
Real Estate Investor of the Year, Asia
ARA Asset Management
Singapore-based ARA Asset Management grew its AUM by over 20% to S$119 billion (US$89 billion) in 2020 despite the pandemic. ARA made headway into various real estate-related businesses before Covid-19 struck, including real estate credits and logistics solutions. Its investments include the acquisition of a majority stake in LOGOS Group and Venn Partners LLP, and an interest in real estate fintech via an investment in Minterest Group, a leading Singapore-based digital investment platform.
Real Estate Investor of the Year, Hong Kong
To diversify its portfolio, Link REIT began expanding its overseas market investments in the 2020-2021 financial year with the acquisition of two premium grade-A offices. These include 100 Market Street in Sydney in April 2020 and The Cabot in London in August 2020.
Fund Manager of the Year
Private Equity Fund of Funds, Asia
Doug Coulter, LGT Capital Partners
LGT Capital Partners announced the final close of Crown Asia-Pacific Private Equity IV plc (CAPE IV), its fourth private equity investment programme in the Asia-Pacific region, at the hard cap of US$1 billion, in January 2020. The firm also launched Crown Impact in late 2020 to pursue investments that generate positive, measurable social and environmental impacts alongside a commercial financial return. The programme, expected to hold a first close in early 2021, has gained interest from institutional investors in Asia. Before this year, Coulter and LGT Capital Partners have won this award for eight consecutive years from 2013 to 2020.
Equity (Offshore), China
Chengshui Wan, Global Value Chain Investment Corporation
Golden Eagle Global Trends Fund
Chengshui Wan is lead manager of the Golden Eagle Global Trends Fund, which aims to track changes in world economic conditions and seeks opportunities brought on by trends in technology and industry innovation. In 2020 the impact of Covid-19 saw the fund increasing investments in the telecommunication, pharmaceutical and e-commerce sectors. By the end of the year, the fund posted an annualized return of about 75.10% for one year and 235.27% over five years. In 2020, the fund’s AUM increased 91.78% to US$107 million. Global Value Chain’s total AUM has exceeded US$500 million including the fund and its managed accounts’, which has exceeded US$400 million.
Equity (onshore), China
Wen Feng Huang, Ping An Asset Management
Ping An Asset Management Featured Medical Themed Stocks
Wen Feng Huang was studying to be a doctor before he became a fund manager, and this gave him a unique understanding of the themes and fundamentals of the medical industry. He has been managing the Ping An Asset Management Featured Medical Themed Stocks since 2018. Last year the fund posted an annualized return of 90.21%, significantly outperforming the Shanghai and Shenzhen 300 Index, while its three-year cumulative return reached 155.3%. The fund was ranked among the Top 4 on an annual basis and Top 2 on a three-year basis in similar types of fund – equity insurance asset management products.
Equity, Greater China
David Choa, BNP Paribas Asset Management
David Choa is lead manager for the BNP Paribas China Equity fund which invests about two-thirds of its assets in companies that have their registered offices or conduct majority of their business activities in China, Hong Kong or Taiwan.
In 2020, the bulk of the portfolio was invested in China equity as part of its asset allocation strategy to shift its holdings between the three markets for maximum performance. With US$258 million in AUM, the fund posted an excess return of 12.9% in 2020[AL1] and a three-year annualized return of 16.11%.
David Ng, Affin Hwang Asset Management
David Ng manages the Affin Hwang Select Asia Pacific (ex-Japan) Dividend Fund (SAPDF), an equity fund that seeks to provide regular income and capital growth through investments in dividend-yielding equities. With AUM of 939.9 million ringgit (US$ 227.8 million) as of December 2020 (1,124.0 million ringgit as of March 2021), the fund posted a 31% one-year performance during the review period and 12.4% five-year annualized return. In terms of asset allocation, 30.2% of the fund is invested in China, 25.8% in the United States, 10.7% in Taiwan, and the rest in five other markets plus cash (as of March 2021).
Fixed Income, Malaysia
Esther Teo, Affin Hwang Asset Management
Esther Teo, director of fixed income for Affin Hwang, is also lead fund manager of the Affin Hwang Select Bond Fund, which has delivered positive and consistent returns over a three-year rolling period. With AUM of 2,678.5 million ringgit as of December 2020 (2735.6 million ringgit as of February 2021) the fund has delivered a one-year return of 6.1% during the year and a five-year annualized return of 5.6%. In terms of asset allocation 24.3% is invested in China, 19.4% in Malaysia, 10.9% in Australia, and the rest in at least 10 other markets plus cash. About 39.1% of its portfolio is in BBB-rated bonds. Previously, Teo and the Affin Hwang Select Bond Fund also won this award in 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2015.
Yu-Ting Chen, Nomura Asset Management
Yu-Ting Chen is the fund manager of the Nomura Taiwan Superior Equity Fund, which spreads risk and seeks long-term capital growth and stable income through investment in stocks listed on or traded on the Taiwan Stock Exchange and the OTC Exchange. [AL2] In 2020, the fund achieved an annualized return of 74.64% and over the past five years the fund gained 180.90%. As of March 31 2021, the fund has AUM of NT$10,624 million (US$380.5 million) and was ranked first of 93 funds during this period with a performance of 144.1%.
Multi Assets, Taiwan
Betty Ye, Capital Investment Trust Corporation
Betty Ye is fund manager of the Capital Multi-Asset Allocation Fund, a fund of funds which adopts a multi-asset, diversification strategy and adjusts the asset allocation dynamically. The holdings include equity fund, fixed income fund, ETFs and other assets. At the end of 2020, the fund was composed of 89.46% equity funds and 2.77% fixed income funds. It posted a one-year annualized return of 40.65% and gains of 52.32% over five years. Total AUM is NT$2.077 billion.
For a complete list of winners, please click here