Affin Hwang is attempting a difficult balancing act. The firm is an independent securities house in a market populated by big banks. But although this might imply Affin Hwang should stick to a few key areas, it looks to be trying to compete with its bigger rivals on all fronts. So far, the firm can rightly claim the strategy is working.
Its strength undoubtedly flows from its trading capability. Affin Hwang was the clear leader in equity trading over the course of 2016. The firm traded 128.9 billion shares worth a combined MR110.5 billion ($26.3 billion). In terms of units traded, it took a 14.87% market share. In trading value, it boasted 11.41% of the market.
But Affin Hwang has also built an impressive deal team across DCM, ECM and M&A markets. The overarching reach of CIMB and Maybank ensures every client is fought over, and there is little chance that Affin Hwang could expect to muscle out its rivals entirely, but it is winning more than enough to claim success.
The firm has taken a smart approach to navigating the market, in part by identifying key partners to work with. It has a strategic partnership with Daiwa Securities, the Japanese brokerage. It counts Bank of East Asia as one of its major shareholders, and Nikko Asset Management owns a stake in its asset management business.
Kuala Lumpur: Affin Hwang's HQ
But foreign partners can only go so far. To truly shine in its domestic market, Affin Hwang needs to have the firepower and the manpower to be able to take on CIMB and Maybank. That means smart origination bankers, market-beating coverage, reliable research and the ability to execute in difficult markets.
That is certainly not an easy ask, but one that Affin Hwang has proved increasingly comfortable with en route to winning Asiamoney’s award for Best Securities House in Malaysia.