Always be prepared
The wealth dynamics of Asia are well known: it is getting more populous and prosperous and remains the best relative bet on economic growth and wealth creation in the years ahead (see page 10). The key to selling investment products to Asian consumers is striking up partnerships with influential wholesale distributors, whose relationship managers and investment advisers are well placed to appreciate the needs and appetite of end-investors.
Today, technology is the cutting edge tool to make connections. It is altering the landscape, particularly in China (see page 52). Even so, old-school distribution based on relationships is still the way to make hay in Asia. Certainly there has been an increased focus on funds among banks, including those traditionally engaged in trading activities. Their goal is to move to an annuity model. But looking at the horizon from a fund manager’s perspective, we have set out to identify the most influential figures in fund selection at distributors in the region, starting with Asia’s two international hubs, Hong Kong and Singapore (see page 22). These are the people whom fund providers ought to know, that can make a difference between solutions being included on a platform or overlooked.
It is imperative for fund houses to understand how each distributor works before they pitch their products, understanding what they already have on their shelves and what they might be missing. While there are similarities in selection criteria including after-sales support, there are also idiosyncracies that providers should be aware of. Some people have the autonomy to select funds, while the job of others is to sound out ideas and forward them to centralised selection teams. Many use a CIO house view as their starting point, building a range of solutions to cover most market cycles while also running high-conviction lists, of which Asia-focused funds are often a subset.
Distributors want to hear compelling reasons why they should replace any of the funds they are already recommending, to know how a fund is differentiated or unique and how it is positioned versus peers. Track record is not necessarily a clincher, since it is the investment cycle ahead that will determine performance.
Some observers criticise the standard of fund selection in Asia, arguing it is too focused on marketing and what sells, contributing to industry short-termism and product churn. They’re right, of course. Finding the middle ground between what clients think they want and what their portfolio actually needs should be considered best practice. But that is not AsianInvestor’s determination on this list. Here we look to identify professionals who have internal influence in the fund selection process. It is down to the providers themselves to prove how their products will perform sustainably.
04 On the move
Mirae adds RMs in Asia Pac, loses ETF head; Ho and Reidenbach join Manulife; Temasek adjusts management structure; T. Rowe begins sales build-out; Nomura WM hires Heng as Asia CIO; Ho replaces Ebrahim at Amundi; Rothchild appoints Zau for north Asia role
08 Regulatory Analysis
Hong Kong’s regulator is promising fund promoters a shorter time to market under
a new two-speed authorisation programme
10 Data Centre
From a wealth creation perspective, Asia still remains on track to grow fast
12 Asset Owners
Private markets headache
Investor demand for private equity deals is increasing, but even the largest asset owners find the process challenging
16 Q&A: Robert Vergara, president, Government Service Insurance System
20 News: Thai SSO plans global RFPs; Cathay Life CIO on insurance pressures; GPIF names global bond managers; Singapore gets nod for top Asian pension system
Top 25 in fund selection
AI profiles the most influential selectors from the key regional distribution hubs of Hong Kong and Singapore
36 Roundtable: A panel of fund selectors discuss equity valuations and investment opportunity in European stocks
42 News: Fintech to alter the role of advisers; Julius Baer veteran sets up multi-FO; Credit Suisse seeks China health-care funds; gloomy adviser outlook for 2016
46 Fund Managers
IT costs driving change
Back-office spend is forcing consolidation, while patchy regional coverage is limiting the choice for fund managers looking for asset-servicing partners
52 China is at the leading edge of the financial technology revolution. We highlight the major players and their respective fintech platforms
56 ETFs: demand for smart-beta ETFs is driving a new generation of products
59 Fixed Income: after this summer’s market turmoil, fund managers assess the damage done to Asian bond markets
62 News: Value Partners rounds out China plan; Samsung optimistic about Capital Group tie-up; GF operational in London; Fidelity sets up WFOE
Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioural Economics by Richard Thaler