The week was greeted by a rare visible sunrise in Beijing this Monday morning, as institutional investors from 17 countries with combined assets of $3 trillion gathered in the city for the Fiduciary Investors Symposium hosted by top1000funds.com.
President and chief executive of State Street Global Advisors, Scott Powers (pictured) opened the conference with acknowledgement of the changing landscape and challenging predicament of institutional asset owners.
Delegates were treated to the dual risk sessions presented by chief investment officer of Wurts and Associates, Jeff Scott, and Professor of Finance and Alternative Investments at New York University Stern School of Business, Lasse Pedersen.
Practical case studies littered the day including one on the fiduciary management outsourcing experience of Pensioenfonds Vervoer by chief investment officer Patrick Groenendijk, and one from the Abu Dhabi Investment Council’s chief risk officer, Harvey Toor.
Global director of investments at Towers Watson, Roger Urwin, reminded delegates that risk management at its centre is improving the likelihood of meeting a fund’s mission and goals in the long and short term. Most funds think too simply about their institution and need to broaden their thinking, this includes risk, he says. (Apparently, he says, the Eskimos have 22 different words for snow, in the English finance world there is only one word for risk!)
A reference for understanding the Chinese economy was given to delegates by the well-credentialed Dr Fan Gan, who among other titles is the director of the National Economic Research Institute, China Reform Foundation, and adviser to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange.
CEM Benchmarking’s Mike Heale presented on the global trends in fund benchmarking, in particular highlighting the cost effectiveness of scale, as demonstrated by the large pension fund performance.
Other presenters in the content-rich program included Joseph Cherian, director of the Centre for Asset Management Research and Investments at the National University of Singapore; chief investment strategist for Russell Investments Asia Pacific, Andrew Pease; and the managing director of Eaton Vance Management International, Niall Quinn.
Dinner at the stunning Green T House capped off the day of collaboration, challenging ideas and connectivity among some of the world’s most influential minds in investment and pension management.