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Deploying capital almost like a hedge fund: The silent revolution in Asian private banking - Singapore Roundtable

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Deploying capital almost like a hedge fund: The silent revolution in Asian private banking

Bryan Goh, the former Head of Alternative Investments of DBS Private Bank who in April 2015 joined private bank Bordier & Cie. as CIO, says he is “deploying capital almost like a hedge fund”. With a deep personal background and expertise ranging from trading equities, managing equity and global balance funds before getting into fund of funds for a private bank and also for a family office, Bryan’s aim is “to bring more cutting-edge investment processes into a private bank where typically portfolios are created as a simple blend or balanced portfolio of equities, bonds, commodities, hedge funds.”

Many private banks just allocate capital on a long term fundamental basis, whereas Bordier’s new approach is to allocate risk based on macro or systemic events at the top level and drill down to more specific catalysts. This has led the bank into more esoteric strategies, “because the usual ones are not working that well any more or come with additional risk.” Bordier also allocates a substantial amount, anywhere from 25% to 30% of a portfolio, to hedge funds, which is more than the usual Asian private bank.

Bryan thinks that private wealth portfolios tend to be over-diversified. “When the macro environment isn’t so great, diversifying a lot means you actually end up picking up that not so great environment in your portfolio. What we find more effective is to diversify less, taking on idiosyncratic risk, and only deploying capital when there is a good reason to do so.”

One of the risks Bryan and other participants of this Roundtable refer to is the general lack of liquidity in Asia, which can be a challenge when your aim is to diversify over the full market cap range. This condition subsequently leads to substantial overlaps in portfolios where everybody is owning the same large caps, the same big banks and large technology companies. This means that even though an investor may be looking at different funds, you could see the same portfolio underneath. Now, maybe even more than ever, buyers need to look through in order to make intelligent choices.

Deutsche Boerse is China’s partner of choice in first international exchange cooperation

Deutsche Boerse Group, which recently has been on a buying spree acquiring FX provider 360T, index provider STOXX, and fund admin Citco, has launched a joint venture in Frankfurt with its Chinese partners, Shanghai Stock Exchange and China Financial Futures Exchange. This is the first international exchange cooperation the Chinese have entered with the Shanghai Stock Exchange owning 40%, the China Financial Futures Exchange 20%, and Deutsche Boerse the remaining 40% of the new venture. This JV will be based in Frankfurt and develop cash and derivatives products denominated in Renminbi for broad distribution outside of China.

The truth about high frequency trading

Today, even the most sophisticated investors say they are feeling the impact of the high frequency traders and have to adapt. However, insiders also say that over the years, the names of those who are making the cut via some sort of high frequency trading also change. Looking at the overall volume contribution by so called high frequency traders, it has peaked probably two or three years ago and since then has been more or less stable. In fact, for many of those players it is more about latency than high frequency. Exchanges don’t see too many new entrants entering this space, rather, a few ones will be dropping out over a certain period and those will then be replaced by new ones.

As we all know, there is no free lunch. While you could say that the high frequency or low latency traders are using somebody’s limitation to make money, that lunch for high frequency firms comes at extremely high costs. Those firms need to cover enormous IT costs, and it’s therefore quite a risky business. Still, other fund and asset managers have started to demand a level playing field. “If the low latency guys get 40 or 50 different order types and are able to enter orders with four decimal points after the comma, I also want the same...”.

The Opalesque 2015 Singapore Roundtable was sponsored by Eurex and took place end of 2015 in the Deutsche Boerse office in Singapore with:

  1. Bryan Goh, CIO, Bordier & Cie
  2. Rajesh Sundaresan, CIO, Lighthouse Canton
  3. Roshan Padamadan, Founder, Luminance Global
  4. Steve Knabl, Managing Partner, Swiss Asia Financial Services
  5. Peter Fricke, Head of Eurex Representative Office, Singapore
  6. Roland Schwinn, CEO, Eurex Clearing Asia
The group also discussed:
  • Update on new Asian fund launches
  • Opportunities in relative value, market neutral arbitrage, asset backed securities, leveraged loans, CLOs, behavioral market neutral Asian quant, Alpha in India
  • Which Asian strategies achieved 50% to 100% annualized over the past eight years?
  • Can Chinese financial markets have a more serious compliance than the US?
  • “You only had the optimists in China”: Why the China bubble was destined to burst in 2015
  • Why investors believe that “any good hedge fund manager” will most likely have quarterly liquidity, one year notice or one year hard lock
  • How comes all of the larger international asset managers are now setting up shop in Asia?
  • Are investors paying higher fees to long only managers than hedge funds?

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