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Awards / Treasury & Capital Markets
Best of the sellside: Battered but battling on
Long-serving sellside individuals again top the rankings in this year’s Asian G3 Bond Benchmark Review
Asset Benchmark Research 26 Sep 2023

Asia’s G3 bond market – offshore financing largely tapping the deep pool of US-dollar liquidity – remains in the doldrums. The first six months’ volume in the primary market is down by more than 26%, just a shade above US$100 billion. But sellside market veterans have stayed the course and earned the accolades of the buyside.

In this year’s Asian G3 Bond Benchmark Review released today by Asset Benchmark Research, the data analytics unit of The Asset, it is no surprise that long-serving sellside individuals have again topped the rankings across research, economics/strategy, sales, and trading, as well as the annual ranking of the best syndicate managers.

In the 2023 Benchmark Review, the 24th edition of the longest-running bond survey in Asia, consistency is the common denominator among the ranked sellside individuals as voted by buyside counterparties. For example, 55% of those ranked were repeat winners as among the best individuals for the past three or more consecutive years.

This is against the backdrop of a subdued environment for G3 activity. Several sellside houses have had to lay off staff as business sentiment turned sour. A lot has to do with China’s importance in the G3 market. With the rising rates environment – the US Fed has raised interest rates 11 times over the past 18 months to a 22-year high – and a series of defaults among beleaguered Chinese property developers, among others, the sellside for Asia’s G3 bond market faces very challenging times.

This is reflected, for example, in the sellside’s outlook for the G3 high-yield bond market. When asked about the prospects for the market ahead at this year’s Benchmark Review, close to 60% of the sellside had a negative outlook. This contrasts with less than 50% on the buyside. Conversely, just over 20% of the sellside had a positive outlook compared with over 30% on the buyside with a positive outlook.

In these challenging times, sellside individuals who have battled and maintained strong coverage have been rewarded. Among the analysts, for example, Soo Chong Lim at J.P. Morgan topped this year’s fixed income analysts’ ranking for the second year in a row. Lim, who heads Asia credit research at the firm, has over 15 years of experience at J.P. Morgan and climbed the ranking from fourth position three years ago.

Behind him is Nicholas Yap, who heads up Asia ex-Japan flow credit desk. Just as with Lim, Yap maintained his second place for the second consecutive year, having inched up from fifth spot in 2021. Yap joined Nomura in 2016 to cover Asian credit strategy and sovereigns. Before that, he was with MUFG Securities.

Among economists and strategists, Joyce Liang, managing director and head of Asia-Pacific credit research at Bank of America, kept her lead position for the sixth year in a row. She manages the Asia credit research team at the firm. Following closely behind is Owen Gallimore, head of credit analysis at Deutsche Bank, who joined the firm in November 2021. Previously, he was with ANZ as global head of credit strategy. This is his second year in the runner-up spot.

In the hotly contested best sales ranking, Bank of China International’s (BOCI) Bessie Wang tops the ranking in Hong Kong. Wang has been with BOCI for 15 years and currently heads the China team of FI sales.  She secured her first recognition in 2017, which was the first time a salesperson from a Chinese house featured in the top ten. This year’s win is a marked improvement from her third-place finish in 2022. Following her is Jacky Wang at Barclays. He has been ranked second both in 2022 and 2023 but has been ranked highly in the past three consecutive years.

In Singapore, Joycelyn Ng, head of Asia credit investor sales at ANZ covering global markets takes the top spot this year, a leap from third place in 2022. Edmund de Silva, vice-president at Citi sales global spread products also saw a big jump to second overall from fifth spot a year ago. Da Silva has been with Citi for over eight years.

Among the top traders, Zhirong Chen at Deutsche Bank raced past the competition to climb to the top this year from fifth place last year. As head of flow credit trading, Asia-Pacific, Chen joined DB at the height of the pandemic in November 2021. He has over 13 years of experience and was previously with ANZ, Barclays and RBS.

Jeff Leung at BNP Paribas also showed good progress this year to take the second spot from his fourth ranking previously. He has over 15 years of experience and joined BNP Paribas in August 2017. Previously, he worked at HSBC, Credit Suisse, and CITIC Securities.

This year’s top syndicate manager is Eric Khor at Barclays, who moved from fifth spot a year ago. A director, fixed income syndicate, Khor has over 12 years of experience at the firm. He takes care of origination and execution of both G3 and local currency bonds. Recently, Khor entered the private credit space and asset-backed lending, which are among the new in-demand fixed income sectors among the buyside.

Elaine He at Morgan Stanley takes the second spot. As head of the Asia-Pacific debt syndicate, she has over 15 years of experience at the firm and was recently promoted to that position. She has been top-ranked for the past three consecutive years.

We asked the ranked sellside what would impact the Asian G3 bond market in the coming 12 months, respondents cited inflation, sluggish economic growth, Fed tapering and rate hikes, and shortage of new issues as the top four concerns. Interestingly, geopolitics came in a distant fifth with a score of half the top four considerations. At the heart of geopolitics is the relationship between China and the US, with a few citing Taiwan, Ukraine, Russia, and the forthcoming US elections as among the geopolitical risks.

This year, over 700 from the buyside cast their ballots to nominate the top five sellside individuals by function: analysts, economists/strategists, salespeople, and traders. The nominations are subject to the rating of the investor casting the vote..

For the full list of winners for best sellside individuals, please click here.

For the full list of winners for best syndicate manager, please  click here.

To join the 2023 Asian G3 Benchmark Review gala awards dinner in Singapore in November 2023, please click here.

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