JP Morgan Asset Management has launched a set of 21 locally registered mutual funds in Singapore, the first time it has operated an onshore retail platform there.

The funds include 13 with Singapore dollar share classes, notes Andrew Creber, country director. “We are localising our Luxembourg line of funds so that Singapore investors can access our global investment capabilities,” he says.

The products primarily provide exposure to emerging markets and natural-resource plays, which offer the most compelling long-term investment story for retail, says Michael Koh, who heads the investment-management team in Singapore.

This is the first time JP Morgan AM has had a Singapore retail presence in its 40 years of operating in the Asian investment business. It has had an onshore profile in India for the past three years. Otherwise its retail businesses have centred on North Asia, including Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea.

The firm does have a long-standing investment and trading presence in Singapore, however. The new retail platform now consists of four people, led by Creber, with a fifth due to join in the coming weeks. Creber has been with the firm for 12 years, having moved from the United Kingdom to Hong Kong in 2006 and to Singapore in March to take up the new role.

The Singapore funds range is for the cash market only and is not authorised for sale for locals using money from their Central Provident Fund accounts.

Initially, JP Morgan AM funds will be distributed through major global banks with which it has existing relationships, notably Citi and HSBC. The aim is to develop relationships with local banks and independent financial advisors. The firm also has existing private-banking relationships in Hong Kong and already services Singaporean high-net-worth (HNW) clients from offshore.

Now it can cater to local mass-affluent and HNW clients directly onshore.

Creber says the timing reflects the growing importance of Singapore’s rising affluence, the fact that it has clients who are active in the Lion City, and its location in South and Southeast Asia where business opportunities are on the rise.

He declined to say what kind of revenue or asset-gathering targets the retail business would aim for.