Morgan Stanley Tops Asia Corporate Access for the Fourth Year
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ResultsCorporate AccessAsia (ex-Japan’s) Top Corporate Access Providers

Morgan Stanley Tops Asia Corporate Access for the Fourth Year

ASIA CORPORATE ACCESS PROVIDERS 2024.png
Illustration by II Research

In a challenging year, II Research’s annual ranking of corporate access teams has some familiar names

A lagging China has benefited other countries in the region—and it has also kept Asia’s top corporate access providers on their toes.

“Asia is a diverse region with unique characteristics and deep complexities,” said Dennis Zhang, Asia head of corporate access for Morgan Stanley. “When client interest shifts from one country to another, we need to be nimble and take quick action to put in place events and themes that address their new areas of focus.”

“When client interest shifts from one country to another, we need to be nimble and take quick action to put in place events and themes that address their new areas of focus.”
Dennis Zhang, Asia head of corporate access - Morgan Stanley

The exodus of investors from China over the past couple of years has boosted adjacent markets as liquidity moved over to India, Japan, Taiwan, and to a lesser extent ASEAN and Korea, according to Vivian Lee, head of APAC corporate access at UBS. But 2024 has marked a change, with investor sentiment tentatively warming in China. “This has mostly happened at the futures and derivatives tier so it has not led to material outflows in neighboring markets yet, but a further move up in China could weigh on liquidity in India and Taiwan for example,” she added.

It has also meant a continued surge in demand for corporate access—the business of sell-side firms connecting the buy-side with company executives—in the region.

“We aim to provide corporate access solutions that add insights and tangible benefits to our clients,” said Morgan Stanley’s Zhang. “To be able to achieve this, we must know our clients and fully understand their needs. The key tenets of our approach include being commercial, dynamic, and coordinated.” Zhang said the firm aspires to deliver quality access that is “higher up the value chain” and correspondingly de-emphasizing the provision of commoditized access such as post earnings non-deal roadshows.

This approach is working, according to the voters of II Research's 2024 top corporate access providers. Extending its reign for a fourth year, Morgan Stanley has been voted No. 1 by more than 690 investors at 397 firms representing the buy-side point of view who were asked to consider six attributes: conferences, logistics, roadshows, field trips, team quality, and virtual events.

Like last year, there was little change in the overall leaderboard. In these commission-based results, J.P. Morgan and UBS repeated their second and third finishes, respectively. BofA Securities rose one spot to take fourth, and Citi rounded out the top five.

The survey also captured the corporate point of view as well. 256 respondents ranked their four top firms in the following attributes: virtual conferences; feedback; investor introductions or ad-hoc requests; non-deal roadshows; and site visits.

Morgan Stanley once again placed first in this leaderboard. Nearly a year since the acquisition of Credit Suisse, UBS was up one spot to second. Citi took third while J.P. Morgan was fourth, and CLSA cracked the top five.

Corporates were asked to consider the following attributes when ranking: investor feedback; investor introductions or ad-hoc requests; non-deal roadshows; reverse roadshows or site visits and virtual conferences.

We have added very senior analysts in the key sectors in APAC, and they came with invaluable senior management access and industry contacts
Vivian Lee, head of APAC corporate access - UBS

According to UBS’s Lee, the firm is already leveraging opportunities post-Credit Suisse integration. “We have added very senior analysts in the key sectors in APAC, and they came with invaluable senior management access and industry contacts,” she said. “We are excited to leverage these resources in our upcoming events as well as provide a white-glove service for our clients.” This was on display late last month when the firm hosted the 27th annual Asia Investment Conference (AIC), a legacy Credit Suisse event.

Looking forward, top firms expect corporate access to remain a demanding balancing act in the region. “Language barriers and cultural nuances require a wide range of skills to secure time with corporates, source liquidity, execute efficiently and ultimately provide a caliber of experience that is valued by clients,” said Zhang.

With a growing appetite from U.S., Latin American and European investors in the region, Zhang said Morgan Stanley is optimistic, especially with the renewed interest in Hong Kong and China and the firm’s investment in Japan and India. There is also a growing domestic opportunity.

“We are well positioned to continue to offer a rich and diversified value proposition to our clients,” he concluded. “In addition, it’s been exciting to see the growth of the regional client base and their ‘export’ contribution to our global business.”

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