CFA Institute 11 February 2022
Trends in Capital Markets and Capital Formation in Asia Pacific
CFA Institute Alpha Summit APAC
Virtual Session: Video On Demand
CFA Institute Alpha Summit APAC, a two-day virtual conference focusing on the investment industry’s biggest challenges and most compelling trends across Asia Pacific, was held on 10-11 February 2022.
The rise of private markets and the growth of special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) as IPO alternatives in the US, has sparked demand to accelerate the evolution of the region’s capital markets. In the meantime, passive investments, including ESG indexes, continue on a high growth trajectory and may overtake active investing in the next few years. With the changing demographics and investor demand, as well as disruptions from the pandemic, higher inflation and liquidity issues in Asia property debt markets, what trends and changes will shape the short-term and long-term outlook for the region’s capital markets? How should these directions inform investment strategies?
- Fiona Cho, portfolio manager, PGIM Real Estate
- Mohamed Nasser Ismail, global head equity capital markets, SGX
- Herald van der Linde, CFA, chief Asia equity strategist, HSBC
- Taie Wang, CFA, chief business development officer, Hang Seng Indexes Company
- Daryl Liew, CFA, chief investment officer of Reyl Singapore
Watch the Video
The Attractions of Alternative Investments
The panel’s review of capital market trends in Asia includes an overview of the region’s buoyant real- estate market. Cho highlights how we could expect healthy flows into the asset class, pinpointing logistics, data centres, and rental housing (all of which proved resilient during the pandemic) as areas of the market to watch. “Investors globally have been increasing their allocations to alternatives, including the real estate sector, and have indicated they will continue to do so,” she says, explaining that the segment offers attractive yields amid a rising-rate environment.
The arrival of special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) in Asian markets was also on the speakers’ minds. Mohamed Nasser Ismail shares the Singapore Exchange’s view on SPACs. Although SPACs may provide an alternative pathway that will bring growth companies to Singapore, it will be essential to safeguard investor protection.
“We first consulted on a SPAC framework a decade ago,” he says. At the time, Ismail felt that the market was not quite ready to accept the idea of a shell corporation listed on a stock exchange with the purpose of acquiring a private company.
“The world has changed quite dramatically since then,” he continues. Previously, the track record of business development and profitability were vital before a company was brought to market. With modern enterprises, the scale and growth rate of a business often matter most.
Wealth Accumulation: Capital Is Not Scarce
According to van der Linde, the long-term outlook for the region’s equity markets looks bright. “Capital is not scarce,” he observes, “And Hong Kong [SAR] is turning itself into a NASDAQ of the East,” he adds.
Alongside capital inflows, including from the United States, and increased listings by technology companies, van der Linde believes that domestic growth opportunities will arise from “massive wealth accumulation,” given the retirement planning needs of Asia’s ageing populations.
This should boost the retail investment market, which he cites as “one of the biggest developments in Asia,” because it means local savings should remain within the region. Inflows also have several positive effects on the markets, given lower volatility and the emergence of new asset classes.
Sustainable Investing Moves Into the Mainstream
Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) efforts have move inward from the investment fringe, which has attracted much debate. “Sustainable investing is definitely going mainstream and is top of the agenda for investors all over the globe,” explains Wang. She adds that this move is thanks to a top-down policy push combined with bottom-up investor awareness and concerns over climate risk.
The panellists also explore the challenges to successful sustainable investment, including a lively discussion on the merits of quantitative versus qualitative ESG approaches. Wang shines a light on the development of ESG indices and low-carbon benchmarks by citing a 2020 study by the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, which compared the performance of ESG indexes with traditional equity indexes. In many cases, “ESG indexes tend to have similar if not better risk-return performances compared with their parent indexes.”
CFA Institute Alpha Summit APAC 2022
Virtual Sessions - Video On Demand:
- Welcome and Opening Remarks: Think Beyond the Horizon
- Fireside Chat: Progress in Greening the Financial System—Lessons Learned and Looking Forward
- Panel Discussion: Climate Change Risk – Action for Industry Stakeholders
- Panel Discussion: Global and Regional ESG Regulations and Standards – Implications for the Financial Services Industry
- Panel Discussion: The Pandemic’s Impact on Shareholder Activism
- Keynote and Fireside Chat: SDG Investing
- PGIM Sponsored Session: 2022 Best Ideas - The Road to Renewal
- Panel Discussion: Managing Pension Funds for Sustainable Long-Term Return
- Panel Discussion: Trends and Changes in Capital Markets Formation
- Fireside Chat: Future of the FinTech Eco-System
- Panel Discussion: Investment Management Professional of the Future
With more than 20 years of real-estate experience spanning investment management, investment banking, and equity research, Fiona heads up the Asia-Pacific business of PGIM Real Estate. Her principal focus is on Pan-Asian funds and accounts. She is also a key contributor to the firm’s new fund and product development initiatives across the region. Before joining PGIM, Fiona was responsible for capital raising and strategic advisory services with the real estate investment banking team at Eastdil Secured. Fiona holds a master’s degree from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree with honours from the University of California, Berkeley.
Daryl Liew, CFA is CIO for REYL Singapore, a subsidiary of independent Swiss banking group REYL & CIE. Daryl is in charge of managing the investment portfolios for REYL's Singapore-based clients and providing Asian coverage for REYL & CIE's private banking investment team based in Geneva. Prior to REYL, Daryl was Chief Investment Strategist at Providend, a Singapore Independent Financial Advisory firm. Daryl received the Bachelor of Law degree from the National University of Singapore and was subsequently called to the Singapore bar. Later Daryl obtained his MBA, majoring in Finance, from the Asian Institute of Management in the Philippines. Daryl is a CFA charterholder and is an active volunteer with CFA Society Singapore where he co-chairs the Advocacy Committee. An experienced trainer, Daryl recently completed the training requirements to be a CFA Ethics trainer.
Herald van der Linde is HSBC’s Head of Equity Strategy, Asia Pacific. He joined the bank in 2005 and came to HSBC with 20 years of experience in various roles, including stock analyst, equity strategist and head of research in Indonesia, South Africa and Taiwan. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), speaks seven languages and has an MSc in Economics for which he wrote a thesis at Indonesia’s central bank in Jakarta in 1993. Herald is also an Associate of the Institute of Wine and Spirits and is a certified lecturer for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). He sits on the advisory committee for the China Studies programmes at Hong Kong’s Baptist University and is the author of “Jakarta: History of a Misunderstood City” published in 2020.
Nasser is Global Head of Equity Capital Markets at SGX and is responsible for attracting companies to list on either the SGX Mainboard or Catalist platforms. Nasser also spearheads various capital-market policy and platform initiatives. Before this, Nasser led the SGX Issuer Regulation Unit, where he oversaw the review of listing applications and monitored the ongoing compliance of listed companies. Earlier in his career, Nasser served as a Deputy Public Prosecutor at the Attorney-General’s Chambers. He is currently a board member of Enterprise Singapore and an appeals board member of the Islamic Religious Council.
Taie is responsible for developing new business lines, including ESG and smart beta indexes. Before joining the company, she was the deputy head of research at a global asset management firm. Taie has over 18 years of financial experience. Notably, she developed the Gender Diversity Index, which led to the launch of SHE, the world’s first ETF that promotes gender equality. Taie has master’s degrees in finance and mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also gained a double bachelor’s degree in English for science & technology and industrial economics from Tianjin University.