Director Joseph Charian [photo]

CAMRI Director's Message


Dear Readers,

It’s been an exciting journey since our last update to you in December 2013. We introduced the CAMRI Research Digest: Academic Perspectives edited by Professor Sumit Agarwal (Research Director, CAMRI), which is a periodic compendium of academic research summaries & views by our faculty and edited by Sumit. The most recent article is by Dr Markus Taussig entitled, “Private Equity in Emerging Asia Continues to Intrigue and Confound.” In the meantime, Dr Brian Fabbri (CAMRI Visiting Research Fellow) continues to churn out his monthly digest of market research & views via his CAMRI Monthly Research Digest: Global Perspectives column.

We also would like to alert you to look out for CAMRI’s most exciting announcement for 2014/15: the formal launch of our CAMRI Graduate Certificate in Applied Portfolio Management (g-CAPM) programme. This executive course will be conducted in the CAMRI Lab at NUS Business School, Singapore. The g-CAPM programme is an 8-day state-of-the-art executive training program developed by academic professionals at CAMRI for investment professionals, and conducted at the world’s most advanced Investment Management & Trading Lab. The first session is expected to take place between 21 February and 1 March 2015. To learn more about our g-CAPM programme at CAMRI, as well as register your interest, please click here. Do feel free to forward this link to your friends who may be interested in the g-CAPM. 

Please take a few minutes to review and enjoy CAMRI’s latest e-Newsletter, which not only have summaries of our activities provided below, but also convenient clickable web-links to the associated full articles and commentaries.

Thought Leadership
CAMRI Executive Round Table Lecture Series
Past Events
Research Projects
Camri in the News
Upcoming Events
New Staff


Thought Leadership

CAMRI Research Digest: Academic Perspectives

CAMRI Academic Perspectives is a periodic compendium of academic research summaries & views edited by Professor Sumit Agarwal, Research Director at CAMRI & Low Tuck Kwong Professor of Finance at NUS Business School. We hope you enjoy reading our CAMRI Academic Perspectives digest.


August 2014: Private Equity in Emerging Asia Continues to Intrigue and Confound
by Markus Taussig

Private equity in emerging markets remains a hot commodity with limited partner investors, especially in South East Asia. More than half of the respondents in the Emerging Markets Private Equity Association’s 2014 “Global Limited Partner Survey” claimed that they will either be freshly entering or will be expanding their allocation to funds focused in the South East Asian region over the next two years. What type of PE firm is best equipped for emerging markets are some of the questions this article attempts to address. The difficulty for even a very well-informed emerging markets investor to identify these key characteristics, helps explain the distance between the intent and actions of private equity investors in this very challenging space.


May 2014: The Low Down on Hedge Funds: Re-Examining the East-West Divide
by Joseph Cherian, Christine Kon and William Weng

We analyse the downside risk and loss profile of hedge funds in North America and Asia so as to identify any significant differences between these two geographic markets, as well as to see how the differences have converged or diverged over time. We also attempt to understand the drivers of performance that differentiate Asian versus North American hedge funds. In our downside-risk analysis of 2,631 NorthAmerican hedge funds and 994 Asian hedge funds obtained from Eurekahedge and spanning a period from January 1995 to February 2013, we find that the Event-driven based group of investment strategies forbothgeographic regions display better performance characteristics as compared to the other investment strategy groups, both on a risk-return as well as downside risk basis. Furthermore, the more diversified funds, such as multi-strategy hedge funds, do not necessarily perform better on a downside risk basis as compared to the single manager strategies. Asian hedge funds, after a period of lackluster performance around the Asian Financial Crisis,have improved their risk-adjusted performance remarkably since, particularly during the recent Global Financial Crisis where their loss profile is almost on par with their North American peers. “Onshore” funds, i.e., funds where the manager is located in the same investment geography, have slightly worse loss profiles compared to “offshore” funds. This applies to both Asian and North American funds, and is contrary to extant academic literature evidence that managers with geographic proximity to their investment universe have better risk-adjusted performance than other hedge fund managers

March 2014: Consumer Behaviors in Financial Markets: Financial Crisis and Policy Implications
by Sumit Agarwal

In light of the 2008 meltdown in the subprime mortgage market and the subsequent financial crisis, there is a growing concern that consumers are ill-prepared to make sound decisions in an increasingly complex financial environment. Numerous examples from around the globe come to mind – social security privatization, under-participation in retirement plans, lack of sufficient portfolio diversification, choosing the right mortgage, subprime mortgages and optimal refinancing timing. Let me focus on one particular example. Banks routinely advertise that they have hundreds of different types of credit cards with varying interest rates, fee rates, and reward options – food & beverage, travel, auto, gas, and hotel rewards. To choose the right card that best suits a consumers needs seems like a daunting task.


Dr. Brian Fabbri [photo]

CAMRI Monthly Research Digest: Global Perspectives

CAMRI Global Perspectives is a monthly digest of market research & views by Dr. Brian Fabbri, Visiting Research Fellow at CAMRI & President of FABBRI Global Economics. The full articles can be read by clicking on the weblinks below.


November- December 2013:  Will Changed Leadership Matter?

February 2014: Sovereign Asset‐Liability Management in Singapore

March 2014:
The End of Easy Money is Near

April 2014: Will It Be Déjà Vu for Japan?

May 2014: A Time for Reflection: Liquidity Creation Is Not Having the Same Effect on Equity Markets

June 2014: Excess Liquidity and No Inflation!

July-August 2014: US Economic Pull, Push or Let Go? The Case of Asia


Market Outlook Series at CAMRI

These are thought-provoking and timely pieces carrying the perspectives, views and outlooks of various NUS Business School and CAMRI-associated authors as they relate to markets, the economy, asset classes etc., with a particular emphasis on - or implications for Asia.

The CPF: Making a Good Programme Even Better
by Joseph Cherian and Danny Yong (August 2014)
This article was carried by IPS Commons

This article is set within an appreciation of the three fundamental concerns that people planning for retirement have about retirement funding: first, that they receive a reasonable payout every month; second, that the payouts should last for as long as they live; and third, that the payouts keep pace with inflation. The article goes on to explain why these concerns, and a goal-oriented approach to retirement funding, yields the type of saving and payout schemes seen in the current CPF system. This is the good news. However, retirees usually also wish for a semblance of the standard of living they were used to at the point of retirement. As a consequence, “qualified” members of the CPF – i.e., those who have the potential to accumulate (or have accumulated) more than the mandatory Minimum Sum during their working years – should be allowed to participate in an enhanced retirement savings scheme, where they can benefit from the long-term performance of well-diversified, low-cost portfolio strategies with different risk profiles, and which will enable them to earn supplementary income in their retirement years. A few such portfolio strategies are presented for illustration purposes. Lastly, the system has to also address longevity and inflation risks more directly, and tweak (the already good) home monetisation program to ensure basic retirement adequacy – and life-long shelter – for all.

Safeguarding India's Growth Prospects: A Macrofinance Perspective
by Ranjan Chakravarty and Joseph Cherian (July 2014)
This article was carried by NUS Think Business

The business-friendly results of India's election earlier this year were clearly a mandate for economic-growth, offering a renewed opportunity for the world's largest democracy to propel itself into the top league of the world's leading economies. Looking at what support the financial sector might offer, the authors suggest three measures and practices that would act as multipliers to the various initiatives and strengthen India's economic revival. The potential results of these measures would be an organic boost to GDP from reduced costs of borrowing for corporate India, as much as for the government, propelling investment and helping to drive further growth.

Evolving the Investment Framework for Private Wealth Investment Management
by Pranay Gupta (April 2014)

While institutional investment management has evolved to become more sophisticated and performance driven, private wealth management has largely been neglected from an investment process perspective. Although similar to the institutional investment problem in many respects, the parameters specific to private wealth investment management mean than a direct application of institutional processes is not feasible. Further, the business model and organizational structure of private banks also needs to evolve, if enhanced investment processes are to be implemented. Several approaches are being currently tried to improve the investment proposition of private wealth management. We propose a revised framework for private wealth investment management, which we believe overcomes some of the challenges organizationally and from an investment standpoint, and allows better management of private wealth assets.

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Esteemed Guest Lectures Series

The CAMRI Executive Roundtable Luncheon Series at NUS Business School is a small, by invitation only group discussion about a pertinent, relevant and timely financial economic topic. It is usually led by a CAMRI-affiliated faculty member, fellow or visitor, and the discussion takes place in the presence of senior leaders from the industry and academy. Our practice is to post meeting summaries right after the Roundtable Discussions, which can be read by clicking on the weblinks below, where available. We also conducted audience e-surveys during certain Roundtables. These are indicated below.

Now-casting and the Real Time Data Flow

By Professor Lucrezia Reichlin, Professor of Economics at the London Business School, and Non-Executive Director of UniCredit Banking Group and AGEAS Insurance Group (Thursday, 17 July 2014)

Investment Principles – Beliefs and Truths

By Mr Charles Brandes, Founder and Chairman, Brandes Investment Partners (Thursday, 13 March 2014)

To see the results from an audience e-survey we conducted during this Roundtable, please click here, Value Investing Principles Survey Results (Sample Size = 23) 

The Third Party Plenum of the 18th National Congress

By Professor Anthony Neoh, QC, SC, JP, Member and former Chief Advisor of the International Advisory Board of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC); former Chairman of the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC); and Dean’s Visiting Professor at NUS Business School (Wednesday, 22 January 2014)

To see the results from an audience e-survey we conducted during this Roundtable, please click here, Chinese Financial System Survey Results (Sample Size = 22)


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Past Events

Here are some of the highlights from CAMRI's various activities including conference, forum, public lecture and roundtable discussion:

5th NUS Asian MBA Stock Pitch Competition

19 - 21 February 2014

past-event-stockpitchThe annual NUS Asian MBA Stock Pitch Competition hosted by the Centre for Asset Management Research and Investments (CAMRI), held in partnership with The Parker Center for Investment Research at The Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, provides a forum for top MBA students in Asia to compete and showcase their equity research and stock-pricing skills in front of a panel of distinguished judges from the investment industry. The intense competition comprising of MBA students from the top 8 business schools from China, India, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, is designed to replicate the fast-paced, demanding experience of fundamental analysts and asset managers in the real world. National University of Singapore emerged as the Champion this year. The team members were: Abhishek Khandelwal, Jiang Mingzhi and Jude Nilendra Priyanath Weerasinghe. SP Jain Institute of Management & Research of Mumbai was the Runner-up. The Welcome Dinner Speaker was Mr. Munib Madni, Managing Director, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, while the Luncheon Keynote Speaker was Mr. Edward Sherman, Chief Executive Officer, Brandes Investment Partners (Asia). The donors this year were Morgan Stanley (Platinum Donor), Novatera (Gold Donor), Brandes (Gold Donor), Bloomberg (Data Partner) and IMAS (Supporting Partner). The success of our annual NUS Asian MBA Stock Pitch Competition hinges deeply upon the kind investment and involvement of our corporate donors and partners. We are hence deeply grateful for their support.  Please contact Himali Kothari ( or CAMRI ( if you are interested to be involved.

Tolani-NUS Business School Public Lecture: “The Dollar Trap: How the U.S. Dollar Tightened Its Grip on Global Finance” (In Collaboration with Cornell University)

3 April 2014

past-event-tolaniProf Prasad shows, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, U.S. policies and a dysfunctional international monetary system have paradoxically strengthened the dollar's importance. In international finance, it turns out, everything is relative. Ultimately, there is no good answer to this question: If not the dollar, then what? That is why, despite all its flaws, the dollar will remain the ultimate safe haven currency. Eswar Prasad’s ThinkBusiness video on Why the dollar dominates: Understanding the dollar trap. Prof Prasad’s talk was followed by an enlightening panel discussion featuring Professor Prasad, Dean Soumitra Dutta (Johnson at Cornell), Professor Kim Sun Bae (NUS) and Dean Bernard Yeung (Moderator). The discussion spanned a variety of topics, including the dollar versus renminbi, the global macroeconomic and geopolitical situation, and how competitiveness and innovations are necessary conditions for a nation’s economic strength, resilience and growth. Over 300 people attended this public lecture and panel discussion.

6th Wee Cho Yaw Singapore-China Finance and Banking Forum

25 July 2014

Rethinking the Concept of Service in the Financial Services Industry

past-event-wcy6Good customer service remains the heart-beat of the banking industry, as it is in most other sectors. The demands and expectations for quality service increase correspondingly as customers' wealth grows. As banks compete to attract customers in the wealth management arena, have service standards kept pace with the explosive quest for the investible dollar? How does the financial industry compare with the 5-star hospitality industry when it comes to service? Should there be a benchmark to evaluate the service standards of financial advisors, wealth management planners, bankers and others in the financial industry? These thought-provoking questions, and more, were examined by highly prominent leaders in the financial services industry at the 6th Wee Cho Yaw Forum organised by CAMRI and NUS Business School. The star-studded cast of speakers and panelists that day included Hsieh Fu Hua (Chairman, UOB), Steve Leonard (Executive Vice Chairman, IDA), Professor Anthony Neoh QC, SC, JP (Hong Kong Bar, Dean's Visiting Professor, NUS Business School and former Chief Adviser, China Securities Regulatory Commission), Piyush Gupta (Group CEO, DBS), Teo Swee Lian (Special Advisor, Managing Director’s Office, MAS), Robert Lagerwey (Vice President, Operations, Capella Hotel Group Asia), Michael Zink (Head of ASEAN and Country Officer for Singapore, Citigroup), Eddie Khoo (Managing Director and Head, Group Personal Financial Services and Private Banking, UOB). The 6th Wee Cho Yaw Singapore-China Finance and Banking Forum held at Four Seasons Singapore attracted close to 400 participants, which is an all-time record.

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Reasearch Projects

Student Managed Fund Update

We are in the process of creating the CAMRI Asian MFM quantitative model that will mimic the entire process from our US MFM quantitative model, including all the Asian MFM factors, sub-composites and total composite being backtested on a long/short basis. Per a potential (large) donor’s request, our initial plan is to launch the SMF Asian Live Portfolio as a long-only fund, where we will also be getting real-time fundamental inputs (a.k.a. Value Investing) from the SMF Track students taught by Professors Robert Lewis, James Cheng and Sunil Gupta, within the CAMRI Lab and - in one module - encompassing student field visits to listed companies in Singapore and potentially Johor, Malaysia!

Case Studies Update

Both of these case studies written below have been published by Ivey Publishing

Financing Alibaba's Buyout: Syndicated Loan in Asia
Authors: Emir Hrnjić, and David Reeb, June 2014 

Emirates Airline: A Billion-Dollar Sukuk-Bond Issue
Authors: Emir Hrnjić, Harun Kapetanović and David Reeb, April 2014 

CAMRI Applied Finance Research Grant (AY 2014/15)

The 2014 CAMRI Applied Finance Research Grant funded by the generosity of CAMRI’s donors was awarded to Assistant Professor Qian Wenlan of the Finance Department for her proposal, “Short Sellers and Limits to Arbitrage” and to Assistant Professor Luis Filipe Goncalves-Pinto of the Finance Department for his proposal, “Deleveraging Risk and Hedge Fund Activism.” A total of $30,000 in research grants was awarded.

CAMRI recently also announced a Case Study Grant Proposal call to our faculty colleagues at NUS Business School to encourage them to submit Asia-based case study grant proposals. The grants can be used to develop case studies that will broadly benefit the investment management industry in Singapore. Case grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded in mid-September 2014.


Smart Finance Blog

Professor Sumit Agarwal
, Research Director at CAMRI, aims to unravel the complexity of how small investors & households make financial decisions, by offering clarity, comment, analysis and advice for consumers and policy-makers alike (in collaboration with Think Business at NUS Business School).

Does ERP change affect real estate markets?
01 April 2014

Duty on alcohol and tobacco rise by 25% and 10% respectively
23 February 2014

Profit Maximisation or Paternalism?
30 January 2014

Does new construction activity affect the electricity consumption of nearby residents? Evidence from Singapore
08 January 2014

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Camri in the News

Talk Back: CPF changes 
938Live (Tuesday, 19 August 2014)

A ‘live’ interview with Prof Joseph Cherian (Director, CAMRI) on the CPF changes announced by PM Lee Hsien Loong during the National Day Rally. Prof Cherian also took questions from listeners during the programme.

Three areas where CPF could be changed
Today (Saturday, 16 August 2014)

Yesterday’s National Day Rally was closely watched for PM Lee Hsien Loong’s expected announcements on measures to improve the CPF system, among other changes to national policies. Published a day before the Rally, this article features suggestions from Prof Joseph Cherian (Director, CAMRI).

Money Mind: Bitcoins
Channel NewsAsia (Wednesday, 30 July 2014)

Story features comments from Prof Sumit Agarwal (Dept of Finance) on the factors one should consider before using or investing in bitcoins.

Opening doors (Tuesday, 29 July 2014)

China is opening its domestic capital markets to a widening group of foreign investors as it seeks to unlock its capital account and expand the use of the yuan. Article features comments from Dr Emir Hrnjic (Director of Education & Outreach, CAMRI).

Various issues were raised at the Institute of Policy Studies’ Forum on CPF and Retirement Adequacy held on Tuesday, 22 July 2014, which featured Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Manpower Minister Tan Chuan Jin. Prof Joseph Cherian (Director, CAMRI), one of the panellists, felt that there is need to keep CPF funds for retirement and other uses separate, to reduce the temptation of tapping on one’s retirement savings. Ways to reform the CPF system were also discussed at the forum. Various media and TV outlets featured comments, suggestions & views from Joe Cherian about the CPF scheme, as well as on issues in the ongoing public debate over the scheme (as of 1 August 2014)

  1. CPF: The hot button issues (Channel NewsAsia)
  2. How to improve the CPF: Experts’ take (Straits Times)
  3. Raise withdrawal age for the young, gradually (Straits Times)
  4. Reduce amounts allowed for buying property (Straits Times)
  5. Talkback: ‘Live’ interview on CPF (938Live)
  6. 专家:避免添困惑 若提供更多公积金高回报选项 应简单明了 (Lianhe Zaobao)
  7. Singapore Tonight: 'Live' interview on CPF (Channel NewsAsia)
  8. Is ‘generous’ use of CPF funds a threat to retirement adequacy? (Today)

Various comments on CAMRI's Sixth Wee Cho Yaw Singapore-China Finance and Banking Forum (as of 1 August 2014) 
The Forum was held in Singapore on 25th July and entitled, "Rethinking the Concept of Service in the Financial Services Industry". The Forum, which attracted close to 400 people, profiled five expert panelists - they were (1) Mr Piyush Gupta, Group CEO, DBS; (2) Ms Teo Swee Lian, Special Advisor, Managing Director’s Office, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS); (3) Mr Robert Lagerwey, Vice President, Operations, Capella Hotel Group Asia; (4) Mr Michael Zink, Head of ASEAN and Country Officer for Singapore, Citigroup; and (5) Mr Eddie Khoo, Managing Director and Head, Group Personal Financial Services and Private Banking, UOB. The panel was moderated by Professor Anthony Neoh QC, SC, JP, Hong Kong Bar, Dean's Visiting Professor, NUS Business School and former Chief Adviser, China Securities Regulatory Commission. 

  1. Singapore Tonight: Banks grapple with scrutiny (Channel NewsAsia)
  2. 业者:面对更严格监管 银行须平衡客户和监管者要求 (Lianhe Zaobao)
  3. Banking chiefs say regulation of the industry needs to strike right balance (
  4. 张瑞莲:银行在环境变化中应坚持服务普通客户为本 (Xinhua News Agency)

Many S'poreans keen to work in golden years: Poll
Sunday Times and AsiaOne (Sunday, 27 July 2014)

A survey by the Sunday Times found that 73.1 per cent of those polled either plan to work part-time or be active investors after they retire. This article looks at the various aspects of retirement and how to get the best out of those years. Features comments from Prof Joseph Cherian (Director, CAMRI).

S'pore should sharpen its edge in Islamic finance 
The Straits Times (Tuesday, 22 July 2014) 

Commentary by Dr Emir Hrnjic (Director of Education & Outreach, CAMRI) on the opportunities that await Singapore in the global Islamic finance sector.

Lianhe Zaobao (Sunday, 20 July 2014)

Since the introduction of the CPF system, the public has, from time to time, called on the Government to relax restrictions on the use of CPF funds. Article features comments from Prof Joseph Cherian (Director, CAMRI) and Assoc Prof Toh Mun Heng (Dept of Strategy & Policy) on what can be done.

Singapore Tonight: CPF returns more than fair (Channel NewsAsia)
News 5 Tonight: CPF returns more than fair (Channel 5)
CPF returns are more than fair, say experts ( 
(as of Wednesday, 9 July 2014)

Industry experts say CPF rates are more than fair as returns are well above market rates and backed by one of the few remaining triple-A rated governments in the world. All stories feature comments from Prof Joseph Cherian (Director, CAMRI).


Speeding reform (June 2014)

China is quickening the transformation of its domestic debt capital markets to wean borrowers from bank financing and to create a more market-driven system that offers borrowers better access to capital. Article features comments from Dr Emir Hrnjic, (Director of Education and Outreach, CAMRI).


专家学者认为: 提高公积金利率 风险会变 更高 万一投资亏损 须增税或动用储备金 
Shin Min Daily News (Monday, 9 June 2014)

Increasing CPF interest rates in tandem with market movements may not be a good thing as that could mean higher risks for individuals. Article features comments from Prof Joseph Cherian (Director, CAMRI).

GIC bets big on Chinese debt (Reuters, Friday, 6 June 2014)
过去数周 GIC18亿元中国债券 (Lianhe Zaobao, Saturday, 7 June 2014)

GIC is making waves in Asia's debt markets with a series of unusually big investments in bonds from China. The unusual approach, however, raises questions about GIC's concentration of exposure to Chinese fixed income. Articles feature comments from Prof Joseph Cherian (Director, CAMRI).


Hunt for higher CPF yields entails trade-offs, risks
The Business Times (Friday, 6 June 2014)

PM Lee Hsien Loong said last week that the results of a CPF review will be shared in August. Raising CPF returns may seem the most desirable and direct way to secure a decent retirement for Singaporeans. But doing so is far from straightforward. Article features comments from Prof Joseph Cherian (Director, CAMRI).

Competition casts shadow over Chinese rating agencies
Reuters (Wednesday, 4 June 2014)

Fierce competition among rating agencies in China is creating incentives for them to be less stringent about their credit assessments, while the push to create a municipal bond market could worsen matters. Article features comments from Dr Emir Hrnjic (Director of Education & Outreach, CAMRI). 

Where dual-class share structures might work 
The Business Times (Wednesday, 4 June 2014)

Commentary by Dr Emir Hrnjic (Director of Education & Outreach, CAMRI) on the benefits of allowing dual-class listings in the Singapore market. 

Please read the more detailed CAMRI-related news articles here.


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Upcoming Events

August/September 2014
The formal launch of our CAMRI Graduate Certificate in Applied Portfolio Management (g-CAPM) programme (Lecture dates: 21 February - 1 March 2015)

9 – 14 November 2014
CAMRI Asset Owners Dialogue with the Pacific Pension Institute (PPI), Four Seasons Singapore

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photo-staff-jai-arya [photo]

Jai Arya is an Advisor to the Dean and the Centre for Asset Management Research & Investments (CAMRI), NUS Business School. He has 37 years of banking experience, and currently serves on the NUS Business School Executive Education Board and the Advisory Board of The Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF). OMFIF, which is based in London, is an independent research and advisory group that serves as a platform for confidential exchanges of views between official institutions and private sector counterparties. Till March 31, 2014 he was with Bank of New York Mellon, most recently as an Executive Vice President and Global Head of their Sovereign Institutions Group, and also the Chairman of their Sovereign Advisory Board. Mr. Arya was a member of BNY Mellon’s Global Operating Committee, as well as the bank’s Asia-Pacific Executive Committee. He worked for the bank for 27 years, in Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and India. Prior to joining BNY Mellon, he worked for Bank of America for 10 years in India, Hong Kong and briefly in the Philippines. Mr. Arya has an MBA from the Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi University, and a BA in Economics (Honours) from St. Stephens College, Delhi, India.

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