Funds manager beauty parades are a bit passé in Australia these days, but in the Phillipines they like them so much they televise the things. This came as something of a shock to Martin Donnelly, deputy chief executive of ING Investment Management, when he went to Manila pitching for a piece of the Government Service Insurance System’s first offshore allocation. The public sector fund, hitherto concentrated in Filipino T-bonds, had put US$1 billion up for grabs (roughly 12 per cent of its assets), with the promise of more mandates to come.

As if that wasn’t nerve-wracking enough, the cameras were rolling as reps from ING, Credit Agricole, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Deutsche, Northern Trust, PIMCO, Goldman Sachs and Societe Generale, among others, did their PowerPoint presentations before the inscrutable eyes of the board, with millions of Filipino public servants no doubt hanging on every word in front of their TVs. The sweat was worth it for ING, which got the board’s nod along with Credit Agricole, scribbled in all the right places at the IMA-signing ceremony (televised as well) and now runs a sizeable, multi-year absolute return mandate for the GSIS from Sydney. If Unbalanced was a Filipino, we’d have probably stuck to the basketball or billiards channel, but then again funds management journalism is our day job.

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