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Singapore asset managers’ top concern is a worsening of US-China ties, poll finds

By Asia Asset Management  
January 10, 2020

Most Singapore asset managers flagged a potential further deterioration of ties between the US and China as their biggest concern, according to annual survey findings by the Investment Management Association of Singapore (IMAS).

Nearly eight in ten or 79% of respondents rated the relationship between the world’s largest and second largest economies as their top concern, followed by 66% who cited weak global growth, and 53% who picked softening growth in China.

The findings are based on responses from 53 senior executives of investment firms, mainly chief executive officers and chief investment officers, in Singapore. The survey was conducted in December.

In spite of their concerns, respondents remain optimistic about opportunities in China, favouring the country the most for overweighting investments, according to Rajeev De Mello, chairman of IMAS’s development committee.

“Despite concerns about the US-China relationship, the results show that the industry remains confident that the outcome will be positive for Asia,” Mr. De Mello says in a statement on January 8.

Meanwhile, a majority, or 57%, of respondents expect environmental, social and governance (ESG) or impact-focused strategies to become the most popular investment strategy in 2020, eclipsing absolute return which ranked first in 2019 but was only picked by 17% this time.

According to IMAS Chairman Susan Soh, 2020 “looks to be the biggest year yet for ESG".

IMAS, which was established in 1997, currently represents more than 100 investment management companies in Singapore with a combined S$1.3 trillion (US$962.30 billion) of assets under management.