For the fifth consecutive year, Ipreo held its IR Wisdom Summits in cities across Asia. From September 7 through September 14, an Ipreo contingent was joined in Beijing, Hong Kong, Taipei and Singapore, by a diverse group of chief financial officers, investor relations officers, buy side and sell side professionals, journalists, stock exchange representatives and representatives from multiple IR associations.
The overarching goals of Wisdom are to inform and elevate the IR profession across Asia. The agenda is designed to provide access to best-in-class IROs, senior executives from the investment world, and many of the globe’s leading IR associations to spark a healthy exchange of ideas and opinions.
The prevailing spirit of Wisdom is openness. The conference series is produced by Ipreo, with help from EQS, Open Exchange and the Singapore Exchange, and is complimentary to delegates. Wisdom 2016’s 500 delegates and more than 50 speakers and panelists has us already looking forward to another great series of Wisdom Summits in 2017.
Here is a quick recap of this year’s Summit:
Beijing, September 7
More than 100 delegates joined us at the Four Seasons in Beijing. The morning session focused on broader capital-markets-related topics. We heard from Xu Chunmeng, the Hong Kong Exchange’s Beijing representative, about the flow of southbound money via Shanghai Connect and plans for the upcoming Shenzhen Connect. Simon Cox, an emerging markets editor at The Economist followed with a captivating presentation on global economic stagnation and the connection to technology disruption. The CEO of Finfabrik, Alex Medana, presented on the buzzword of the day–blockchain–to help demystify the topic and detail some of the ways it will disrupt processes in the financial markets in the not-so-distant future.
The agenda switched gears in the afternoon to focus on subject matter more directly related to investor relations. A vibrant panel hosted by Jane Guo of Citi discussed the developments of corporate access and IR for China companies listed domestically, as well as differences with those listed in Hong Kong. An Jing, CFO of 58Home.com, and Beate Melten, an industry veteran and head of IR Advisory at Citi DRs, were part of a terrific panel discussion on IR Best Practices. We wrapped up the event with a presentation of Ipreo research on the buy side’s expectations for investor relations from an Asian company. The day was capped with cocktails and canapes sponsored by EQS.
Hong Kong, September 9
A rainy day in Hong Kong didn’t deter a group of close to 100 delegates. Similar to Beijing, the agenda in Hong Kong moved from general themes of the global economy, markets and fintech to more IR-focused topics in the afternoon. The morning was started off by Tae Yoo, Managing Director at the Hong Kong Exchange, who made a compelling case for the continued move of mainland assets to equities. Simon Cox and Alex Medana also re-joined us in our Hong Kong Summit to discuss the state of the global economy, disruption and blockchain.
The afternoon session was jam-packed with content. We kicked it off by bringing Australia to Hong Kong via the magic of Open Exchange. The Head of Asia Pacific Equities from Maple-Brown Abbott and Citi corporate access joined us from Sydney to discuss the inflow of equity assets from Australian superannuation funds that are forcing Australian investment managers to look abroad for investment ideas. Rene Veerman of MSCI then gave a detailed presentation that included a review of the process for inclusion into its many well-followed indices and background on MSCI’s decision to not include China A-shares in its emerging markets index.
A conversation on governance and IR featuring the CIO of Robeco and the CFO of Meitu sparked a lot of conversation on transparency and the growing importance of ESG. The day ended with a panel of leading IROs from Tencent, Link Asset Management, and AIA. The discussion was expansive and energetic and really caught the attention of the delegates. Those discussions continued into the evening – along with plenty of networking over cocktails and canapes – again sponsored by EQS and Ipreo.
Taipei, September 12
Le Meridien Hotel hosted what would turn out to be the largest of the four Summit sessions, with nearly 200 delegates present. We were honored to have Lee Chi-Hsien, the President of the Taiwan Stock Exchange, open the event to update the delegates, primarily TWSE-listed companies, on the Exchange’s plans. Following the TWSE, Ms. Julie Wang from the TDCC spoke about advancements in big data at the depository to arm issuers with greater intelligence on their investors. Leo Seewald from BlackRock, the world’s largest investment manager, joined us in the morning and put forth the issues of “short-termism” and how good corporate governance can encourage and positively impact long-term corporate performance.
The afternoon session once again turned to more direct IR issues. Alex Lee, CEO of Quantum International Corporation (QIC), moderated a panel on IR practices and the buy side’s involvement in promoting good governance through self-motivated and regulatory required stewardship. Joining Alex live in Taipei were the aforementioned Leo Seewald of BlackRock and Joseph Tang, CIO of Prudential Securities. Once again the technology of Open Exchange was leveraged to have John Gollifer, a former head of IR and now General Manager of the UK’s IR Society, join the discussion. Many of the stewardship codes being adopted in Asia, including in Japan and Taiwan, were modeled after the UK’s own stewardship code.
Chad Yuan of the TWSE and other prominent buy-side speakers followed with presentations on how the recent rollout of the stewardship code by the exchange could be adopted in practice by both issuers and investors. We concluded the day’s agenda with a panel of IROs from a diverse group of companies – China Life, E.Sun Financial and Momo – sharing their ideas and concepts on IR best practices.
Singapore, September 14
The Singapore Exchange was the co-host of Wisdom’s last stop for 2016, along with the support of the Investor Relations Professional’s Association of Singapore (IRPAS). The venue’s top-notch conference facility was filled with more than 90 SGX-listed companies and other market participants. Mr. Chng Lay Chew, CFO of the SGX, got the day started off on message with a talk regarding the importance that he places on IR in his current role, and the SGX’s efforts to promote ESG disclosure from its listed companies. Harold Woo, President of IRPAS, also made his opening remarks around the IR association’s role in developing the IR profession in Singapore and to neighboring South East Asian countries.
Blockchain entrepreneur Pavel Bains, CEO of start-up Bluzelle, gave an impassioned presentation on how blockchain is rapidly changing the financial services industry. It may not happen tomorrow, but Pavel promises that it’s coming. Edward Soon of Ipreo sat down with Carol Kim, COO of Blackstone’s Investor Relations and Business Development Group for Asia. Carol traced her career back to her upbringing in Canada, to stints in IR in Korea and a move to Blackstone in New York, before landing in her current role in Hong Kong. The arc of Carol’s career and its roots in IR for a public company captivated the delegates. Leading us into the lunch break, Marcus Sultzer of EQS hosted a panel that featured a leading IRO, a head of PR and a hedge-fund manager in a discussion on managing crisis communications in the digital age.
Following lunch we were snapped out of our “food comas” with a lively panel on how best to pull off an investor day. Moderated by Jenny Chiam of the SGX, the panel provided insights and advice for companies of any size and sector. The panel included the IRO from Singapore’s biggest company, Singtel, who was joined by IROs at Kris Energy and CWT Trust, two companies that have retail investor-oriented shareholder profiles.
The last panel of the day brought back the buy side, as we heard two different perspectives. David Smith, head of Governance at Aberdeen, and hedge-fund manager Jaren Siew of Astrum International, spoke about their expectations and biggest frustrations related to investor relations. John Gollifer from the IR Society in the UK also joined the panel via video to discuss the European experience in the rollout of various corporate governance and stewardship codes, as well as the potential impact of MiFID II on the sell side. We ended the series of Summits with networking drinks at the rooftop bar of the Sofitel next door, where delegates and speakers continued their networking into the evening. The drinks were sponsored by EQS, BNY Mellon Depositary Receipts and Ipreo.
Thank you to everyone that attended and to our excellent speakers. The continued success of Wisdom as witnessed through the year-on-year growth in delegates is a testament to the increasing stature of investor relations in Asia. As ownership of equities in Asia continues to become more international, we believe IR will continue its rise in importance in the corporate culture of companies in the region. Ipreo will be there every step of the way.