Asset Management Awards for Excellence 2016 – Best Fund Provider – ETF


Geir Espeskog, Head of Distribution, iShares

Geir Espeskog
Head of Distribution

The ‘new normal’ in the financial universe — scarce alpha, compressed distribution margins and lower trading volumes — has motivated private banks in Asia to revisit their fund platforms and to substitute a plethora of active long-only managers for exchange-traded funds (ETFs). And though tailwinds are accelerating, ETF adaptation remains no small feat in a region where years of capital-fuelled markets have traditionally hampered ETF penetration rates, with investors opting for other higher-risk investments.

The gargantuan machine that is iShares has been the greatest beneficiary of these tailwinds, leveraging its scale to cover the segment in a meticulous fashion.

2015 alone saw iShares bring in an impressive US$560 million in Asian high net worth assets. With inflows being driven primarily by discretionary portfolio management growth, the American asset manager was the index tracker of choice due its ability to provide various broad market exposures for both strategic and tactical allocations, and access to UCITS ETFs.

But, as any experienced fund house in the region understands, simply providing product is insufficient. iShares’s personal mandate to bridge the region’s ETF knowledge gap is exemplified by its certification courses launched three years. To date, over 150 private banking clients in Asia have attended iShares’s courses covering such areas as implementing investment ideas and trading with ETFs with tailored collateral. iShares also provides free-of-charge capital market services, including guidance on sourcing liquidity to minimise execution and trading price impact.

Thus, iShares’s dominance in the region is driven, not only by its rapidly growing shelf of ETF products, but also by its status as a provider of solutions, be it via education, secondary market support or holistic portfolio solutions, making it this year’s overwhelming choice for Best Fund Provider – ETF.