Fund firm Fidelity Worldwide Investment is poised to add five external managers to its retail platform in Hong Kong this month, a little over a year after it first announced the move. The additions will take the number on the platform to 15.
Bruno Lee, Fidelity Worldwide Investment’s head of retail for Asia, said the onboarding process had taken longer than anticipated because of the regional scope of the contracts and regulations. He declined to name the managers.
Lee denied that the new managers would be filling a coverage gap, saying the firm simply wanted to provide investors with a greater range of options. He added that some of the managers would be made available to the firm’s clients in Taiwan.
The firm, which has $276 billion in AUM globally, has also set its sights on adding mainland fund houses to its platform once the Hong Kong-China mutual recognition scheme is launched, which is expected to happen before the end of the first quarter next year.
Lee stressed it was eager to increase its offering of three renminbi-denominated funds, arguing that investors would be increasingly interested in accessing RMB funds providing exposure to onshore equities and bonds. Already RMB deposits in Hong Kong stand at Rmb1 trillion ($162 billion).
He declined to name the Chinese managers it has its eye on, but said the same due diligence process that is applied to onboarding international managers would be applied. “I don’t have a view on whether to go for a big or small fund house,” he said.
Fidelity Worldwide Investment relaunched its open architecture FundsNetwork platform in 2012 to provide mass-affluent customers in Hong Kong and Taiwan with access to a range of in-house and third-party funds. It re-hired Lee from HSBC in January that year to bolster its direct retail business.
In August last year, the firm introduced a fee-based management scheme, called the SmartFund Account, which gives HK retail investors the option of paying a monthly fee based on average asset balance. Previously, clients paid a fee based on the number of transactions they conducted on FundsNetwork.
But Lee noted that take-up had not been significant, with fee-based accounts now comprising less than 10% of the firm’s overall retail business in Hong Kong. He said investors preferred transaction-based fees as they were fixed, adding that appetite for fixed income products, which don’t require frequent portfolio re-balancing, had risen.
Fidelity Worldwide Investment operates a retail business in Hong Kong and Taiwan but has put plans to expand into other markets on the back burner, Lee confirmed. He has focused on building the investment and customer service platform in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The firm's Hong Kong and Taiwan personal investing business has $1.5 billion in AUM.
Fidelity Worldwide Investment’s roster of providers comprises AXA Investment Managers, BNP Paribas Investment Partners, Franklin Templeton Investments, Henderson Global Investors, Janus Capital Group, Old Mutual Global Investors, Pimco, Robeco, Schroders IM and Fidelity itself.