Spy found himself in Dan Ryan’s at Pacific Place this week, drinking the best bloody Mary in Hong Kong. He raised a sombre glass to yet another old school establishment that has announced it is shutting down (after Hong Kong Sevens, since you ask). The landlord will no doubt squeeze a few dollars more from the new tenant, not even realising he is squeezing a little more life out of Hong Kong at the same time.
Spy has noted a change in the fund selection team at Citibank in Singapore. Sameer Deshpande has relinquished his role as fund analyst and has moved to an FX role within Citi.
Chatting to several UBS team members this week, Spy discussed their advertising campaign which has been running for months on and offline. “Is it resonating?” he asked. With a snort, one UBS veteran replied, “What, European-style idealism in Asia with a patronising touch? No, I don’t think it means much to our clients….” Ouch!
Spy has received reports from the Fund Selector Asia Income Forums held in Singapore and Hong Kong this week. Voting from the 75-plus delegates indicate they are going to be selling high yield and US equites in droves. On the buy side: alternatives, European and Asian equites, and, absolute return-style products. What is the mood in camp? Negative, gloomy, uncertain and those were just some of the polite terms. What is apparent is that PB clients are sitting on a huge amount of cash. Almost every bank attending the Income Forum claimed clients were sitting on their hands and their cash. Therefore, the tiniest shift in sentiment could lead to some ferocious buying.
Speaking of events, among the corporate-branded freebies that everyone casually slips into their bags, the mobile power bank seems to be in vogue. Spy, who makes an unobtrusive appearance at events, is amassing a growing collection of these devices with the aim of powering his own electric vehicle to challenge Tesla’s efforts to develop the perfect EV battery. Spy does note, however, that budget cuts and belt tightening may have led to some firms sacrificing quality: it seems several of the charging units are supplied with cables not certified to charge the ubiquitous iPhone…Paperweights, these? However, Spy has found that the faux leather utility bags from Neuberger Berman are handy… more like NB, please.
“How is Tidjane getting on at Credit Suisse?” enquiries Spy. “You know, we are in the middle of yet another restructure. Apparently it is going to yield good results soon”, said the CS private banker with asperity. “You don’t sound convinced,” Spy replied. “Mmm, not for me to say,” the banker replied. Perhaps Prudential’s former hero is struggling to get his army of Swiss bankers to be more compliant.
And on the topic of CS, Spy overhead a senior CSAM executive regret that they have no multi-asset product to offer their clients. “We really want one, but we don’t have much to offer.” A case of watch this space?
Spy’s photographers in Singapore have spotted SPDR with a new advertising campaign pushing a US growth ETF:
Until next week…