More than 70 investors representing more than $3.1 trillion in pension, endowment and sovereign fund capital will converge on Beijing on Sunday for the first Top1000funds Fiduciary Investors Symposium.
The three-day conference has attracted leading figures in the investment industry from 16 countries.
Attendees will be welcomed by State Street Global Advisors president and chief executive officer Scott F Powers.
A panel of leading experts will then address a range of topics from the latest thinking on asset allocation to managing sovereign risk and the role of hedge funds.
There will also be cutting-edge research presented by prominent finance and investment academics, as well as a range of case studies delivered by the asset owners who spearheaded changes in investment strategy at their respective funds.
Putting into perspective the tectonic shifts that have occurred in the theory and practice of asset allocation recently will be Jeff Scott, the chief investment officer of Wurts & Associates.
Scott will examine how traditional asset allocation approaches have changed dramatically after the global financial crisis and will bring his own unique perspective as the former chief investment officer of the $40 billion Alaska Permanent Fund.
During his time at the public pension fund, Scott led Alaska in adopting a risk-factor approach to asset allocation, along with developing a risk-based investment policy.
At the conference he will contrast the performance of these types of strategies with more traditional asset allocation models and also look at other ways that investors are re-evaluating their asset allocation structures.
Also delivering a keynote address on the first day is leading academic and economic adviser Dr Fan Gang, who will provide delegates with a unique perspective on the growing opportunities and challenges presented by moves to rebalance the Chinese economy.
Gang, who is a consultant to the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program and the OECD, is also an adviser to the Chinese Government’s foreign exchange arm.
Also looking at risk management, especially in the context of recent market volatility, will be Roger Urwin, Towers Watson’s global director of investments. Providing a rare insight into the thinking of Middle East investors will be Harvey Toor, the chief risk officer at the Abu Dhabi Investment Council.
Toor will detail the risk management framework the fund uses. Over the past three years Toor has established a risk management department at the fund with responsibility for market credit, operational and liquidity risk.
Providing a practical perspective on the question of external versus internal management will be Patrick Groenendijk, the chief investment officer of Dutch industry-wide pension fund Pensioenfonds Vervoer.
In the evening Guy Russo, the former president of McDonald’s Greater China, will discuss the joys and challenges of doing business in China. Russo is also president of Half The Sky Foundation, a charity dedicated to helping thousands of orphaned Chinese girls. His presentation will detail the social challenges facing this vulnerable part of Chinese society.
Day two kicks off with Cliff Asness, the founding and managing principal of AQR Capital Management, who will put the hedge fund space into context in the wake of the global financial crisis.
While acknowledging that some institutional investors were disappointed at how their hedge funds performed after the unprecedented events of the global financial crisis, Asness will look at what lessons can be learned and the role that hedge funds can play in asset allocation.
The hedge fund theme will continue with the co-founder of K2 Advisors, David Saunders, looking at how investors can structure a hedge fund portfolio, with a focus on hedge fund-of-funds vehicles and their potential role in building a hedge fund portfolio.
The morning sessions will also include a look at the new approaches that two prominent asset owners are taking to portfolio construction and risk management.
Delegates will hear from Ho Ho, CalPERS’ head of quantitative portfolio management and the head of alternatives at the British Airways Pension Fund, Bev Durston, will lead a panel discussion.
Also in the morning Anthony Neoh, Senior Counsel at the Hong Kong Bar, will present a keynote presentation outlining the regulatory and legal landscape for fiduciary investment in China.
The afternoon discussions will look at managing currency risk and an analysis of the outlook for credit markets and distressed investing.
In the evening, delegates will enjoy a creative culinary exploration, being able to sample a range of Beijing’s vibrant street food.
The final day will see the conference’s platinum partner, State Street, present its latest research. State Street Associates senior managing director Jessica Donohue will detail research looking at investor behaviour, risk and inflation.
Finally, the closing address of the conference will be delivered by Sharan Burrow, the general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation. Burrow, who heads up the world’s peak union body, will examine the role of institutional investors in driving sustainability and being part of what she describes as a “new social governance mandate”.