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Morgan Stanley Leads 2016 All-Asia Sales Team

Bank of America Merrill Lynch repeats at No. 2; UBS holds firm in third place.

From Locked ranking

Asset managers that invest in Asia (ex-Japan) equities maintain their view that the sales force at Morgan Stanley is the best in the region; the firm tops Institutional Investor’s All-Asia Sales Team for a second year running. Bank of America Merrill Lynch repeats in second place, while UBS celebrates its fourth straight year at No. 3. Credit Suisse rises one rung, to fourth, bumping Deutsche Bank down a notch to No. 5.

“I find Morgan Stanley’s salespeople much better briefed and analytical on stocks than their peers,” observes one buy-side supporter. “They tend to have a better grounding in bottom-up research as opposed to being ‘idea pushers.’”

Unless instructed otherwise, II keeps confidential the identities of survey participants and their firms to ensure their continuing cooperation.

“Morgan Stanley’s sales force is helpful to me, as they are able to capitalize on high-quality research and provide insightful recommendations,” attests one Singapore-based investor. “Moreover, they provide easy access to corporates and site visits in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Some respondents single out specific individuals for special recognition. Among the comments we heard:

• “John Agostini and Romano Stefano are key guys — very responsive, experienced and knowledgeable, and they’re backed by top-tier research.”

• “Elizabeth Martadi, Morgan Stanley’s Indonesia salesperson, has been of great help. She assists me with the sourcing of data and gathering of research work regionally and globally.”

• “Terence Oon, Natt Thanomsat — who left recently — Lewis Phey — who joined recently — and Chieko Nogawa have contributed a great part to our research process on [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] equities in 2015. Besides prompt responses to our requests for information and meetings and timely updates on reports and events, we appreciate Terence and his team’s efforts to draw our attention to key ideas for each day and their insights to help us make sense of the fast-changing and sometimes confusing developments in Asean.”

• “Maryann Tseng is especially strong in handling complex client requests in a timely manner and highlighting news and thoughts that aren’t noticed by the mainstream.”

• “I appreciate the way my sales contacts point me to new research — especially quantitative research — that their firm publishes, or retrieve old research for me when I ask. In particular, Chee Kim Yow has been very helpful.”

• “The Morgan Stanley sales force is totally committed to client service. Every time I send through a request, my sales rep, Frank Yu, is on the case to ensure the shortest turnaround time — way ahead of Street competitors.”

The sales crew at the No. 2 firm merits comparable praise from its clients. “The Asia-Pacific team at BofA Merrill continues to deliver,” observes Ian Beattie, an emerging-markets fund manager with U.K.-based NS Partners. “David Sayers on the sales desk in London is very experienced yet still has the energy and work ethic required in today’s market. I value his opinion and his integrity. He knows the market, the companies and his analysts well and can put forward their strengths and weakness in the correct context for the market conditions and, crucially, clients’ needs. His knowledge of the technology space is excellent — that’s rare in sales — and all delivered with a good sense of humor and professionalism.”

Another money manager offers an overview of the firm’s virtues. “BofA Merrill has the strongest sales force in the region,” he contends. “We value the great coordination between the regional sales and country specialists to deliver a holistic approach.”

This client also calls attention to several “outstanding salespeople”:

• “Despite having one of the smallest sales teams in Indonesia, Katherine Hermawan has built a strong local franchise that complements BofA Merrill’s regional model. She adds value to her regional research with on-the-ground colors and differentiated corporate access.

• “Ida Tan in Singapore has grown professionally from a graduate hire to one of the best Asean salespeople on the Street in just three years. This is a reflection of her hard work and dedication to the job.

• “Madhukar Upadhyayula is one of the few Indian specialist salespeople who is able to sieve through the noise of the market and highlight what really matters to clients. We value his differentiated work, which integrates the firm’s global macro views with technical and fundamental analysis.”

Other individuals singled out for praise include the following:

• “Mark Abada is someone I highly respect. His insights and comments are unique. I never felt like he ever ‘sold’ me any stock tips — it’s always just opinions and his points of view. I appreciate his style, which is very different from the way other brokers do it.”

• “Sarah Cooper writes the most comprehensive regional roundup on the property sector. BofA Merrill’s property tour in China is also the best run among all the brokerages.”

• “Devin Gallagher is terrific. He is very responsive to our needs and responsible when making sure that requests are carried out, whether it be organizing a bespoke trip or setting up calls with their analysts or management teams. He also gives a good perspective on news developments on companies and markets.”

• “Joseph Mirpuri is not only a top-notch salesperson, he also has deep knowledge on macro and global politics. Talking to Joseph has become my daily routine, and his capability exceeds his peers’ by a wide margin.”

• “Loretta Ng, Kevin Lai, Joseph Mirpuri, Gary Mui and Victor Ho have all been very helpful.”

• “Nathan Zibilich truly understands clients’ thoughts behind their inquiries and would run the extra mile to provide additional information to help investors form their decisions. His background as an analyst helps him formulate both short- and long-term investment ideas.”

UBS also has its fair share of admirers, one of whom offers detailed descriptions of coverage in multiple markets. “The Hong Kong sales team is very helpful in updating us on the latest stock calls, strategy publications, analyst meetings and road shows. The response is always timely. Vivian Lee has in-depth knowledge about Hong Kong and Chinese equities and is helpful and efficient.

“The Singapore sales team has good on-the-ground reach in Asean and regularly comes up with good investment ideas,” this backer continues. “The person I deal with is Keng Hock Lim.

“The Taiwan team consists of very experienced and effective salespersons, namely Hiko Lee and Julie Tsai,” he adds. “They have been very responsive to my requests on meeting arrangements and research updates, and also provide timely comments about the latest market and corporate developments. They have in-depth knowledge about Taiwanese equities, both technology and nontechnology sectors.”

In addition, portfolio managers sing the praises of the following representatives:

• “Ranjit Hosangady listens to his clients’ needs and directs his resources to them. He’s organized, disciplined, dedicated to his role and always polite and unflappable.”

• “Lauren Moran is always very responsive with requests and also targeted with the analysts and corporate meetings she offers, which saves us time wading through the clutter.”

• “Jessica Tang always come up with perspectives that are worth reading.”

Each year II invites participants in the broader All-Asia Research Team survey to name up to four firms that they feel provide the best sales support. We received responses from more than 3,180 buy-side analysts and money managers at 1,025 firms that collectively manage some $1.6 trillion in Asia ex-Japan equity assets. Roughly 85 percent of the people who cast votes in the research team survey, representing 93 percent of the participating buy-side institutions, answered our question about the best sales teams.

To view the full list of winning groups, click on the Leaders link located in the navigation table on the right.

For information about how we compiled this ranking, click on Methodology.

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