Asian retail investors, from the ultra-rich to the mass affluent, are more eager to take risk and, in particular, to increase their exposure to emerging markets, according to a new survey.
Barclays Capital, which sells structured products to end users via distributors, has just polled Asia-based distributors about their clients' preferences.
Respondents include executives at 159 private banks, consumer banks, securities firms and insurance companies, with total wealth under management in excess of $5 trillion. Of these, 64 are based in Singapore and 46 in Hong Kong.
In terms of the business of wealth management, the survey affirmed widely held expectations; a forecast for strong revenue growth from China and India, and a desire to expand business opportunities there.
The survey also finds wealth managers getting back to business, with their main challenge one of differentiation, in stark contrast to last year, when the focus was on survival. There is also little emphasis now on product innovation, as products are becoming more transparent and simple.
As a sign of the times, it is notable that on the question of which Asian governments are the most progressive with regard to regulation, China ranked third, with 13% of the votes, ahead of Australia (11%). Hong Kong and Singapore remain by far the most favoured in this regard (29% and 28%, respectively).
While the most popular types of product strategies today centre on capital protection, this is likely to change over the course of this year. There is a growing appetite for exposure to emerging markets.
Looking ahead over the next six months, distributors anticipate greater client allocations to emerging-market equities and bonds. And the most valued feature in structured products is no longer about counterparty risk, but achieving growth.
Although developed-market equity and foreign exchange remain the favoured flow strategies, there is also now rising demand for flow products in emerging-market stock indices and currencies.
All of these demonstrate that investors in Asia have increased their risk appetite, says Peter Hu, managing director of investor services at Barclays Capital in Singapore.