What Makes Morgan Stanley Asia’s Top Corporate Access Provider
The firm tops the list for both the buy-side and corporate communities.
As Asia completed its re-opening, corporate access — the sell-side business of connecting institutional investors with companies — only swelled in demand.
Providers say the buyside’s appetite for on-the-ground access to corporates and policy makers across the region has never been higher amid a volatile year and reduced capital markets activity in the region.
But no two clients are alike, according to Jack Clein, Morgan Stanley’s Asia-Pacific head of equity distribution — and customizing the offering is key. “For us it’s about continuing to deliver three core elements to clients, with a heavy emphasis on customization,” he said. This includes generating access ideas that are relevant, topical, and aligned with client interests, as well as providing high quality, differentiated access to senior management, industry experts, and others with unique insights or perspectives. “Executing our programs with a focus on seamless logistics is what we believe also sets us apart,” Clein said.
And clients agree: For the third year in a row, investors have voted Morgan Stanley No. 1 in Institutional Investor’s 2023 ranking of Asia’s Top Corporate Access Providers. As part of the wider All-Asia Research Team survey — which Morgan Stanley topped again —771 investors at 474 firms representing the buy-side point of view rated sell-side firms on six attributes: conferences, logistics, roadshows, field trips, team quality, and virtual events.
Morgan Stanley captured five out of six of those attributes. This year’s second-place firm, JPMorgan Chase, was recognized for logistics.
Much of the 2023 leaderboard remained unchanged from last year: UBS and Citi repeated their third and fourth place finishes, respectively. And BofA Securities claimed fifth, swapping places with Credit Suisse, which took sixth.
The survey also captured the corporate point of view, with 258 voters ranking their top firms in the following attributes: virtual conferences, feedback, investor introductions or ad hoc requests, nondeal road shows, and site visits. Morgan Stanley placed first here as well, but there were changes further down the leaderboard. Citi improved one spot from last year’s ranking to take second, while UBS placed third. JPMorgan jumped to fourth, and Credit Suisse repeated its fifth-place finish.
How does Morgan Stanley get corporate access right for both the buyside and Asian corporates? According to Clein, a consistently top-ranked corporate access team “aim[s] to provide solutions which add insight and tangible benefits to our clients. To achieve this, we have to know our clients well and fully understand their requirements.”
“The key tenets of our approach include being commercial, dynamic, and coordinated; equally, we are increasing our efforts to deliver access that is ‘higher up the value chain,’” he added. “Correspondingly, this will mean pivoting away from the provision of commoditized access such as post earnings non-deal roadshows.”
Corporate access has clearly bifurcated into virtual and physical offerings, according to Clein, and an element of this virtual world is here to stay. “The virtual aspect will certainly not go away, as both buy-side and sell-side see value in a virtual format for select events,” he said. “On the corporate side, we are focused on facilitating new mediums of communication to allow the corporate community to grow their insights on new sources of capital and potentially less-familiar market participants.”
Clein credited his firm’s success to the tenure of the corporate access team. “We have a very seasoned team that brings over 365 years of cumulative industry experience; this consistency in our people and the deep experience they bring is valued by clients,” Clein said.
But it’s not just seniority keeping the firm ahead in a competitive corporate access field. “On top of this, every day we look for ways to differentiate and develop our offering through a combination of old school grit and new world ideas,” he said.