US asset manager Janus Capital has chosen ING Securities Investment Management (Taiwan) to replace PineBridge Investments as its new master agent in Taiwan to distribute the 16 offshore Janus funds registered there.
The agreement came into effect on June 1, making Janus the second international fund-management company to be represented by ING Sice in Taiwan, joining Pioneer Investments.
"We review our regional partnership from time to time and this time have determined that ING best meets our needs as a local partner," says Jack Lin, Hong Kong-based co-chief executive of Janus Capital International. He cites ING's "very well respected distribution force in Taiwan", which has been in place for around 20 years.
He also notes that ING has a strong understanding of the product that Janus is traditionally strong in -- that is, US global equities and US fixed income -- but he declined to reveal the other Sices that Janus considered in the selection process.
"Janus will work together with ING to educate the Taiwanese investing public and bring more knowledge to the local market," adds Lin. "Many people push mutual funds in Taiwan, but very few stop to really ask what clients are looking for, what type of risk they think they're getting into and the proper asset allocation."
To indicate this, Lin cites an investor survey on fixed-income investments that Janus conducted in September. The survey found that there's a lack of investor understanding of the true risks of, for example, bond funds they are investing in.
The firm has sold funds in Taiwan for eight years of the decade it has been in Asia. The Taiwanese asset base is more retail at the moment, says Lin, but institutions there will increasingly invest in offshore funds. "As with most markets in the region, there's a strong home-country bias when it comes to investing," he adds, and that is likely to become more diversified in time as institutions invest in, say, more global and US equity funds.
The appointment of ING Sice is in line with Lin's plans -- outlined to AsianInvestor back in December 2008 -- for an ongoing focus on professional investors, including institutions and funds of funds.
With regard to expansion beyond its core strengths of global and US equities and US fixed income, Janus is likely to expand into regional Asian equities and emerging-market funds, products Lin says are under development, along with more fixed-income funds. He would not discuss a potential timeframe, however, but says Janus will look to extend these offerings to Taiwan.
Beyond Taiwan, Lin says China "is obviously a very exciting market", although the firm does not yet operate there. However, it is in discussions with potential local partners with which it could distribute QDII products, and that is on top of a base of institutional investor clients there.
Janus also has institutional clients in Hong Kong and Singapore including insurance companies and funds of funds, as well as some distribution agreements.