Asset Management Awards for Excellence 2021 – House of the Year

House of the Year  



House of the Year

Jason Miller

head of APAC Wealth Business, BlackRock

“We are truly excited and honoured to receive this recognition. The award is especially meaningful this year; it is a testament of our focus on delivering investment and service excellence and a result of the trust that we have built with our clients, despite the challenging market conditions in 2020.

This commitment to our clients is even more important today. Clients look to us for guidance – to understand and manage risks over the long term, and to pursue opportunities that arise. This means that we need to work even closer with clients to understand the drivers of change, so that our advice can help them deliver positive investment outcomes over the long term.

We look forward to continuing to partner with clients to live out the BlackRock purpose – to help more and more people experience financial well-being.”

Winners rationale

2020 presented a unique set of challenges for asset managers and their clients globally. From violent drawdowns and a threatening liquidity crisis earlier on in the year, to restrictions on mobility that hampered operations and client servicing, as well as a renewed and prolonged outlook for ‘lower for longer’ bond yields, the funds industry navigated these treacherous waters admirably.Admittedly, some fared better than others — and here in Asia, one firm distinguished itself from the rest on account of the resilience (and performance) of its funds shelf, its ability to pivot quickly and effectively to digital and, ultimately, its ability to raise funds from clients who were arguably hyper-sensitive about which manager they would allocate to amid heightened uncertainty.

BlackRock is that manager. This is a firm whose presence on private banking shelves is long-established and whose dedication to private banking distribution channels is unquestionable. And for those very reasons, expectations of the firm would have been higher.

In short, this was as complete a performance as we saw.

In Asian fixed income, the firm’s flagship BlackRock Global Funds (BGF) Asian Tiger Bond Fund, BGF China Bond Fund, and BGF Asian High Yield Bond Fund collectively raised almost US$1 billion, with multiple private banks promoting the strategies on their focus lists and five new partners onboarding the trilogy.

The attention was warranted. As at the time of deliberation, the China Bond Fund’s track record of delivering outstanding net-of-fees performance on both a calendar year and a one-year rolling basis remained intact, even generating a positive one-year rolling period performance during the March 2020 sell-off. And both the Asia Tiger Bond Fund and Asian High Yield Bond Fund retained top-quartile rankings, posting higher returns in risk-on environments and providing downside cushioning during risk-off.

Moreover, the hard-and-fast rally out of the 1Q20 crash played into the hands of BlackRock’s equity strategies, including its thematics suite — also front and centre of many private banks’ focus lists — which registered significant raises with performance justifying the clamour. For instance, the ever-consistent BGF World Technology Fund posted an impressive 54.7% YTD return (at the time of deliberation), thereby retaining its record of top decile performance since portfolio manager inception. Elsewhere, BlackRock’s Next Generation Technology Fund delivered YTD returns of 59.0% and World Healthscience Fund posted YTD returns of 9.1% (both at time of deliberation).

BlackRock was also well-armed to provide investors with sources of uncorrelated returns. Its BlackRock Strategic Funds (BSF) Emerging Companies Absolute Return Fund and the BlackRock Emerging Companies Hedge Fund are strong examples of strategies that found traction with Asia’s private banks, many of which onboarded the strategies in 2020. Both strategies delivered 10% YTD (at the time of deliberation) and proved their worth through March.

Of course, BlackRock’s prowess, when it comes to private banking distribution, depends heavily on the sales and service support it provides to its partners. Again, this is an area where the firm set itself apart. Investments into technology in recent years ensured BlackRock was ready to adapt to travel and social restrictions. The dedicated private bank and wealth distribution team in Hong Kong and Singapore expanded in late-2019 and pivoted quickly and effectively to digital modes of interaction: It was quick to organise multiple webinars and virtual roundtable discussions on critical, immediate and long-term topics that were front and centre of clients’ minds, including ESG and sustainable investments and ETFs usage, and ensured intensive handholding and the timely provision of relevant information so critical during the March market crash and fallout.

Across all aspects of BlackRock’s private banking and wealth management distribution business in Asia, the firm demonstrated why it is revered in name and for the sheer quality of its solutions shelf, support and – indeed – stewardship.

BlackRock is Asian Private Banker’s House of the Year for 2021.

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