The Dutch pension asset manager's Asia Pacific head of real estate says his team has just had one of its busiest years ever and that 2021 is looking similarly promising.
ING Investment Management is a joint venture with local finance group Hathway Investments, in turn owned by Rajan Raheja Group, a conglomerate. ING Group operates ING Vysya Bank and ING Vysya Life Insurance in India. The bank has around 400 branches and the insurer around 100 outlets and 40,000 tied agents.
Vohra says the retail market holds great promise: ôSo much of retail wealth, almost 60% of peopleÆs money, is still locked up in cash but that figure is changing. If we can manage that repositioning of wealth, it would position us for tremendous growth in the asset management space.ö
As for expanding distribution channels, ING is exploring the internet, phone networks and provident fund products. But, Vohra adds, ôWe are already in most of the distribution channels we would like to be in.ö
Vohra believes investor education is crucial to getting retail participation to increase in India. He says there still tends to be a mismatch of risk profiles and investment choices among many retail and institutional investors in India. Many retail investors have high levels of exposure to equities even if they shouldnÆt be taking too much risk while companies tend to invest more heavily in the money market even if they can afford to take more risk.
ôWeÆre doing our share to educate the [retail] market and send the message that cash is not good enough,ö and encouraging institutional investors to diversify, he says.
Building the ING brand name is also a key focus. Vohra notes that ING Investment Management is ranked 16th among 32 asset management companies in India, and he hopes to see the company climb higher in that list.
In April, Hathway Investments bought ING Vysya BankÆs entire 39% stake in ING Investment Management. ING continued to own 42.5% of its asset management arm while Indian shareholder Kirti Equities retained its 18.5% shareholding. The change in shareholder ownership led to the rebranding of what was then known as ING Vysya Mutual Fund products to ING Mutual Fund.
Vohra replaced Kavita Hurry as CEO; ING would not say why Hurry left or where she went to.
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Experts have a diversified view on the appeal of private assets across the region, but one thing's for certain - inflows are rising, particularly into China and the US.
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