Credit Agricole AM creates new Greater China role

The fund house has named Chris Tse as head of fund distribution for Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan.
Credit Agricole Asset Management (CAAM) Hong Kong has named Chris Tse in the new role of head of fund distribution for Greater China.

Tse is responsible for leading the companyÆs sales efforts in fund distribution and will contribute to the marketing and sales strategy in the Greater China region, focusing on insurance and banking channels.

Based in Hong Kong, Tse reports directly to Ada Mak, who is regional head of business development and client relations for Asia.

TseÆs major responsibilities include distributing a range of products including Luxembourg-based CAAM funds, alternative funds, quant funds as well as structured funds through both private banking and retail channels in the region. He will also develop the wholesale and distribution business in the region; manage investment product sales activities; lead the sales acquisition of new businesses; and develop an acquisition strategy, pipeline and accurate revenue forecast.

Tse and the whole Greater China fund distribution team are based in Hong Kong, from where the coordination of the main distribution activities for the business will be done. His team will serve private banking, retail banking and insurance company clients in the region. The team is a small one for now (Tse declined to say how many), but CAAM plans to expand it in due time.

For the insurance and banking channel business in Greater China, CAAM currently focuses on players in Hong Kong. The fund house services clients in mainland China through its representative office in Beijing and, earlier this year, it also tied up with the Agricultural Bank of China to form its China joint venture, ABC-CA.

Stepping up fund distribution in Greater China is one way CAAM can enhance its global relationships by supporting global partners on a regional basis, Tse says. CAAM serves many private banks on both a regional and global basis and works with many offshore insurance-linked platforms.

Competition is among the biggest challenges Tse expects to face in his new role.

ôTo be frank, the Hong Kong market is much more developed and the competition is extremely keen,ö he says. ôThe average duration of investing in a mutual fund is pretty short when compared to the other developed markets, say Europe and the US.ö

According to the authorised fund sales figures from the Hong Kong Investment Funds Association (HKIFA), net mutual fund sales account for less than 20% of gross sales for the past five years. ôChurning behaviour is quite prominent in the marketplace and the concept of financial planning would be tested and challenged,ö Tse says.

For China, fund distribution is still in an ôembryonic stageö and CAAM can indirectly distribute offshore funds through qualified domestic institutional investor (QDII) schemes. ôWe can tailor-make different fund products for the Chinese market,ö Tse says.

A QDII-licensed institution can create different structures (including fund of funds and structured notes wrapped with offshore funds) to tap into offshore fund markets.

There are more than 100 million stock trading accounts for A-shares in China, and educating both investors and financial advisors will be among the key challenges to succeed in the QDII market and retail platform in the mainland, Tse says.

ôAs the Chinese market is facing excess liquidity and high inflation nowadays, investors are chasing higher returns blindly,ö Tse says, noting the demand among mainland investors for better performing products.

Meanwhile, Taiwan is a market that holds a lot of promise for CAAM, Tse says. ôIf the market rules and fund registrations can be simplified, the market can grow much bigger at a faster pace.ö

Tse has over 10 years of experience in the financial services industry. He joins CAAM from Franklin Templeton, where he held the position of regional sales trainer from June 2006 to June 2008. Before that, he spent nearly three years at Manulife, focusing on wealth management and financial planning.

CAAM, Credit Agricole GroupÆs asset management arm, has around $762 billion in assets under management. CAAM Asia has over 25 years investment experience in the region and serves investors including institutional investors and fund distributors across a wide range of asset classes from fixed income and equities to alternative investments and volatilities. CAAM Asia has investment offices in Hong Kong and Singapore, which manage Asian equities, fixed income and balanced products.
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