Q1: In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception or most significant blind spot when assessing the growth outlook for Asia Pacific?
People tend to overlook how complex and diverse Asian countries are – it’s a massive continent, with virtually every country undergoing significant growth and transformation. There are different languages, regulatory structures and rules, all before you even think about looking at different asset classes. My solution: have investment strategies focused on understanding the local markets and acknowledging their diversity. Before thinking about subcategorizing into different asset classes, let’s first think about how we can metaphorically and literally speak the language and understand the local culture.
Q2: What has been the most rewarding aspect of building CPP Investments’ presence in Asia?
I was the first international employee within CPP Investments. I was tasked to open the first office in Hong Kong, starting with just four employees in 2008. Eleven years later, we have more than CDN $100 billion exposure in Asia, a staff of 130 people, and have opened extended offices in Mumbai and Sydney. None of this could have happened without the talent and commitment of our people. The most rewarding aspect has been seeing colleagues I started with, develop into the leaders who are driving our business on the ground in Asia.
Q3: What has changed in people’s perceptions of CPP Investments over the past decade?
We’ve built a 10-year track record on dependability and transparency. Having a lot of capital does not differentiate us in Asia. What differentiates us is being a sophisticated long-term investor and having strong talent on the ground. For example, we built relationships with Alibaba when the company was private and we continue to work closely with them as a public entity to this day.