One of Hong Kong's most experienced pension professionals has resurfaced as the chief executive of a new organisation for Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) scheme sponsors.

Heman Wong, who left as head of the investment division at the Hospital Authority Provident Fund Scheme (HAPFS) in December 2016 after nine years in the role, has taken up a leading role at the newly-created Pension Schemes Association (PSA).

According to a company search, the PSA was registered in Hong Kong on February 14. Wong joined the organisation on March 12. “We are at the start-up stage," he told AsianInvestor. "I am working alone at the moment with serviced support."

The PSA was founded by six MPF scheme sponsors: AIA, Fidelity, HSBC, Manulife, Principal, and Sun Life. Each firm is represented on the management board.

“The Association will act as the representative body for MPF scheme sponsors in Hong Kong, liaising with relevant policy makers and regulatory bodies on matters relating to the development of the MPF system in Hong Kong," Wong said. "It aims to enhance the trust and confidence in the MPF industry by partnering with industry stakeholders to cultivate awareness of MPF."

Wong said he was unable to divulge more information ahead of a formal announcement, which is expected in the next three weeks.

In the meantime, he said, "we are speaking to the other MPF provider firms and inviting them to become members."

FEES

Hong Kong's MPF managers are under growing pressure to cut the fees on retirement saving schemes, which last year recorded the highest net return in eight years.

MPF schemes have often been criticised for their high administrative fees. Countering these concerns, Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority (MPFA) chairman David Wong said the pension scheme allowed average people to invest in a wide array of assets with small amounts of money.

The fund expense ratio for the 469 constituent funds under the MPF scheme is 1.56% on average and the aim is to bring that below 1% in the coming years, Alice Law, chief operating officer and executive director at the Mandatory Provident Fund Authority, said.

Heman Wong was with the HAPFS from December 2007 to December 2016 and, as chief investment officer, saw the pension scheme increase its assets under management to HK$57.7 billion ($7.44 billion) from HK$35.4 billion by the end of that period. He was succeeded in the role by investment operations and strategic asset allocation head Doris Ho. AsianInvestor has just named Ho as one of our leading pension executives, in large part because of the work she has continued that Wong began.

HAPFS also introduced several new mandates during Wong's tenure, including its first smart-beta strategy in May 2016 via BlackRock. That same year, he received AsianInvestor’s lifetime achievement award.

Before joining HAPFS, Wong served as treasurer at the MPFA for almost eight years. Despite retiring in 2016, he often expressed his intention of moving to another role in the investment arena.