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July's most read: T Rowe Price's new hire; Single family offices seek co-investments

T Rowe Price hires head of intermediary for Asia from Eastspring; Single family offices seek co-investment partners in Asia Pacific; What Hong Kong’s asset management industry wants from John Lee; Singapore’s MAS posts $5.3 billion loss; Ontario Teachers’ active investing made a $36 billion difference
July's most read: T Rowe Price's new hire; Single family offices seek co-investments

Exclusive: T Rowe Price hires head of intermediary for Asia from Eastspring

US-headquartered investment management firm T Rowe Price has appointed Glen Lee as its first head of intermediary for Asia ex-Japan as of July 12, as the asset manager commits resources to the region.
 
Lee will lead the intermediary distribution teams in Hong Kong and Singapore, which AsianInvestor understands comprise six senior distribution executives, each with at least a decade of experience. 
 
Lee is an industry veteran with over 20 years of experience in asset management. In May, AsianInvestor broke the news that Lee had left Eastspring after three years with the firm. The Asian asset management arm of Prudential had declined to comment at the time.
 
Based in Singapore, Lee will report to Elsie Chan, head of distribution for Asia ex-Japan, who told AsianInvestor that the firm plans to commit more resources in the Hong Kong and Singapore intermediary business to support growth in the business “as we increase our distribution platforms and footprint in the region”.

Single family offices seek co-investment partners in Asia Pacific

Single family offices in Asia are increasingly branching out from direct investments, as they rethink work processes, diversify into more adventurous assets and find ways to work around Covid-induced travel restrictions.

Family offices have recently delved into more adventurous assets such as crypto, blockchain and other private equity investments. To invest in new asset classes, family offices could hire and manage those assets internally, or they could tap external expertise and co-invest with fund managers. At the start of the pandemic, Tsangs Group chose to move into the latter when investing in areas such as cryptocurrencies, blockchain and biotech.

Another senior executive at a Hong Kong-based single family office (SFO) agreed that SFOs like hers choose the co-investing mode when they seek to diversify their portfolio, and that it is a stepping stone for many to eventually make direct deals in a new market.

“A lot of people tried to do a lot of things on their own in the old days. A lot of entrepreneurs believed that if they hire the best fund manager to work in my family office, they were done,” she said. “As people realise that they need more expertise and more diversification, family offices in general will be much more open to working with partners of all sorts. That is also a new trend that we are seeing in the past decade.”

What Hong Kong’s asset management industry wants from John Lee

The asset management industry in Hong Kong believes the city's new leadership should have two top objectives to help Hong Kong retain its competitiveness as an international financial centre: less stringent restrictions on international arrivals, and the liberalisation of how various market connect schemes with mainland China work.

“Different industries, including the fund management industry, have been battered by the Covid and travel policy,” said Sally Wong, chief executive officer of the Hong Kong Investment Funds Association (HKIFA).

“The fund industry would exhort John Lee’s government to put the act together so as to help the fund industry regain its competitiveness and propel it to the next level,” Wong told AsianInvestor.

Singapore’s MAS posts $5.3 billion loss

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) recorded an overall loss of S$7.4 billion ($5.3 billion) for the financial year that ended on March 31, citing lower investment gains, currency appreciation, and higher interest expenses.

Investment gains were S$4 billion, down from S$22.8 billion from the last financial year. In addition, the appreciation of the Singapore Dollar led to a negative foreign exchange translation effect of S$8.7 billion, the regulator announced in its annual report on Tuesday (July 19).

The Singapore Dollar strengthened 4% against the Pound Sterling, 5% against the Euro, and 9% against the Japanese Yen, it said.

Additionally, total expenditure increased to S$2.8 billion, attributed to higher interest expenses on domestic money market operations.

The overall loss marks the central bank's first in nine years, according to the Straits Times.

Ontario Teachers’ active investing made a $36 billion difference

With over $186.1 billion (C$241.6 billion) in assets under management (AUM), the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is one of the largest public pension funds in the world, but takes a more active approach than most of its peers.
 
“Ontario Teachers’ is an active, engaged investor, and approximately 80% of our assets are managed in-house,” Ben Chan, executive managing director for Apac at the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, told AsianInvestor.
 
The debate between the effectiveness of active versus passive portfolio management intensified this year, amid the volatility of the re-opening of post-Covid markets in the face of rising inflation, interest rate hikes, and geopolitical tensions.
 
While passive strategies have performed well over the last few years, with most benchmarks moving upwards in unison, active managers should theoretically outperform in a volatile climate.
 
For Ontario Teachers’, a focus on active investing has directly resulted in strong returns for more than the three decades of its history through various economic cycles, said Chan.
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