AIBC 2021 ECM Interview with BlackRock Associate Lynette Lim
In a written interview, Dean Goh, AIBC's Head of Research, speaks with Lynette Lim, a Capital Markets Associate at BlackRock.
Dean Goh (DG): To start, could you tell us a bit more about yourself?
Lynette Lim (LL): As an alumni of the London School of Economics (LSE), I started my career with the Southeast Asia Corporate Banking team at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where I had the opportunity to build a foundation of banking knowledge across the product spectrum.
Thereafter, I had a keen interest to specialize within a product group that was more markets-driven and embraced the opportunity to move internally to the Southeast Asia Capital Markets team. In order to build up my experience regionally, I then moved to Hong Kong in my current role within the Asia Pacific Capital Markets team at BlackRock.
DG: Many students are curious to find out more about the main responsibilities you have within Equity Capital Markets (ECM) on the buy-side, and how that fits within an asset management firm such as BlackRock. Can you share with us more about your current role?
LL: As part of the Capital Markets team at BlackRock, I am focused on ECM transactions in Asia-Pacific (APAC). My role involves working closely with investment teams across the entirety of BlackRock’s investment platform to provide them the ability to access primary issuance markets, source across the capital structure and unlock greater alpha opportunities.
In addition, I act as a single point of contact for issuers and banks on ECM deals. I not only provide constructive fundamental feedback on transactions but also contribute to the origination and structuring efforts of our ECM investments. This involves consolidating the global purchasing power of BlackRock across all investments teams that have investment mandates focused on APAC.
DG: You have worked in both buy and sell-side ECMs in Singapore and Hong Kong. Can you share with us more about the differences in work you do in buy and sell-side ECM?
LL: This is an interesting comparison as it involves looking at deals of the same nature from different perspectives.
On the sell-side, ECM bankers are often focused on helping issuers go to the market successfully for a capital raise. This includes advising companies on the optimal strategy such as the rationale for the capital raise, an opportune market window, evaluation of investor appetite and also managing the execution and documentation process.
On the buy-side, evaluating the alpha opportunity in each investment is key. This involves analyzing both the fundamental and technical aspects of the deal, having a good read of the sector and deal dynamics as well as market backdrop.
That said, there are many similarities in the skillsets required for both roles such as being attuned to market developments and understanding the nuances of each market within the region.
DG: How has COVID-19 impacted ECM activity regionally?
LL: COVID-19 has led to an unprecedented year for capital markets activity. In the initial phase of the outbreak last year, we saw many issuers shelve IPO plans on the back of heightened market uncertainty. However in the secondary market, follow-on issuance volumes surged as issuers looked to raise capital for recapitalization purposes and to strengthen their balance sheet positions opportunistically, with activity primarily led by the Airlines, Consumer and Real Estate sectors.
As sentiment gradually improved and markets rebounded, IPO activity picked up since 2H 2020 and has been dominated by sectors that have benefited from structural tailwinds due to COVID-19 such as Technology and Healthcare.
DG: What are some personal traits and technical qualities that students should have to break into and excel into the Capital Markets industry?
LL: The Capital Markets industry is a fascinating one with a constantly evolving backdrop. Hence, it is important to remain open-minded and to stay abreast of market developments in order to react promptly. Having a good understanding of a company’s capital structure, the intricacies of key ECM products and valuation methodologies across various sectors will also be beneficial.