50 Most Powerful Women- Capital Markets



Capital Alliance Investments – the mutual fund and asset management unit of investment bank Capital Alliance (CAL)– increased its assets under management (AUM) more than three fold to Rs 40 billion when it structured a fund targeted at a specific client need in August 2014


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With Rs40 billion under management Capital Alliance Investments (CALI) is now the largest mutual fund manager in the country. Ashveeni Shanthikumar says client confidentiality agreements, prevent her from disclosing the strategy behind the CAL Gilt Fund which at Rs28 billion under management is the single largest such asset pool. She is unable to even offer an indication of what the investment strategy is.

CAL started its mutual fund business in 2012 with Sri Lanka’s first quant fund combining the smarts of fund managers with insight from mathematical models. This fund has grown 40% year to date, outperforming the market by 12% (January-September). It has over Rs500 million invested.

CALI’s second-largest and most popular fund is the CAL High-Yield Fund ay Rs5.5 billion. Shanthikumar explains that the firm managed to grow this fund over two and a half years due to the perfect timing of the interest rate cycle that locked in high rates around August 2012. “The secret to growth has been structuring innovative products and timing the market.” CALI also has Rs4 billion under management in its low risk Corporate Treasury Fund.

CALI’s strategy has been is to approach potential investors and solve their problems by identifying instead of offering them a choice of existing funds. “We can’t take the current business for granted,” Shanthikumar says, “capital markets are volatile and the economic outlook for the country is not stagnant, so we need to evolve with the economy and keep up with the markets.”




CHIEF EXECUTIVE, Guardian Fund Management

23. Ruvini

Portfolio managers are obsessed about beating the benchmark and for equity that benchmark is the Colombo Stock Exchange’s index, which has risen over 20% so far in 2014. The portfolio of funds managed by Guardian Fund Management – which Ruvini Fernando has been heading since 2008 – have been beating the benchmark consistently during her time in charge.


Guardian Fund Management overlooks the investment sector’s asset management at Carsons Cumberbatch. The investment sector is one of the three key businesses areas for Carsons; the others being brewing and oil palms. Assets under management of Guardian Fund Management top Rs20 billion excluding the Carson’s strategic investments, which aren’t for sale.


The portfolio includes equity holdings of listed and unlisted Carson’s controlled firms, discretionary client portfolios, mutual funds and assets managed by a joint venture with investment bank Acuity. The firm is trying to transform itself into a full-fledged investment company that can offer clients, including its parent Carsons, opportunities in multiple asset classes with varying risk profiles.





None of the businesses ranked on the  list here will be as sensitive to macro economic policy as will be Entrust. Romesha Senerath is executive director and Chief Operating Officer at Entrust group and overlooks two finance companies and a primary dealership in government securities.



Macro economic changes impact interest rates and as it controls both a primary dealership and a couple of finance companies, Entrust’s business is super sensitive to these movements. At group level Senerath manages these risks. She groups her challenges in to three areas.


1. People for growth

Rapid growth in Entrust business units has made optimizing and retaining the teams crucial. Senerath says the high frontline stuff turnover at the two finance companies is particularly challenging.


2. Group Culture

Central Banks encouraging financial sector consolidation will require the two group finance companies to be merged soon. Kandy based Multi Finance is 86% group owned while it also has a controlling stake of former Ceylinco group controlled Standard Credit (earlier known as Ceylinco Investments & Realty). Among the challenges are maintaining a group-wide common culture.


3. Shareholder expectations

Entrust shareholders recently invested Rs2.5 billion in undercapitalized Standard Credit and a matching amount in capital is expected to be provided by the Central Bank under a program to stabilize the financial sector. Senerath expects elevated shareholder expectations following the new equity.




CT Smith

Marianne Page facilitated the investment by Hong Kong’s CLSA in local brokerage CT Smith with which she has been associated for decades. Marianne has been a pioneer promoter of foreign portfolio investment in to the Colombo stock market.

She operates out of Singapore and promotes Sri Lanka through her firm Asiabox Consultancy Services. She frequently visits Sri Lanka and works closely with the team at the now rebranded CT CLSA. Previously CT Smith Stockbrokers was owned by her family through CT Holdings, a listed firm they control. Prior to running her own investment-consulting firm she worked with several top international investment banks and even then consistently promoted investment opportunities in Sri Lanka.





Niloo Jayatilake, an experienced fund manager, has seen a number of equity market cycles and expects fund managers to come under greater pressure to outperform the index in 2015. “The next high is going to be a true test,” she says about the markets continued rise.




Funds managed by the firm include those held by three Carsons group listed companies Ceylon Guardian, Ceylon Investments and Guardian Capital Partners. Jayatilake who has been with the firm for a decade says the policy framework is changing rapidly and isn’t so sure if the fund management industry is capturing that change.

Funds managed by the firm have an overweight position in banking and diversified stocks while they are now slightly underweight with healthcare, where they have been selling. Because Guardian Fund Management has to maneuver a Rs18 billion fund – excluding the Carsons strategic holdings – liquidity is a greater concern. Niloo Jayatilake says their strategy of investing in diversified firms is to have exposure to undervalued sectors in a conglomerate’s portfolio. Due to its size Guardian is unable to invest in relatively illiquid firms directly.

Funds Guardian manages have outperformed the market by 4.12% over a five year period yielding a compounded 23.9%. During 2014 Guardian managed finds with a 30.9% return have outperformed the market by 7%.