Demand is steadily growing in Thailand for overseas exposure, boosting the importance for foreign asset managers of knowing the key local gatekeepers. AsianInvestor has identified those selectors considered to be the most influential.
We have already profiled Benjarong Techamuanvivit of Kasikorn Asset Management, Smith Banomyong of SCB Asset Management and Vana Bulbon of UOB Asset Management. Here are our next two choices.
Senior vice-president for wealth management
One of the more prominent distributors in Thailand, Phatra Securities serves high-net-worth and affluent clients.
For the high-net-worth segment it offers more sophisticated products featuring structured notes and derivatives sold over the counter. For mass-affluent investors it provides five single mutual funds as well as an asset allocation fund selected from 20 asset management firms.
Phatra is a selling agent for the affiliate asset management units of most local banks. Given that it is not backed by a domestic lender, its shelf carries products from SCB Asset Management and Kasikorn Asset Management without any considerations of potential conflicts of interest or crossover.
Maethee Chandavimol is in charge of product development at Phatra Securities for both client segments. He joined in 2013 as a head of investment advisers to service mass-affluent clients before being promoted to his current role last year to service all financial products across wealthy and affluent individuals.
Chandavimol has 10 years’ experience working in the financial services industry, ranging from banking to consulting and insurance companies.
He acknowledged the shift in local investors towards offshore funds and said he was looking to add such solutions to its current product range. Those it is targeting include global multi-asset funds and long/short global hedge fund strategies.
Phatra’s assets under management total $10 billion, although this includes investing in direct equities. About 40% of its mutual fund assets are invested in global markets ex-Thailand.
Head of retail banking
Fund selection at Citibank Thailand sees the regional due diligence team collaborate with its local unit led by Don Charnsupharindr. It is not Thailand’s largest fund distributor, yet it was the first to launch direct offshore funds this year in response to new regulations.
“In this first phase we plan to launch offshore funds with Blackrock, Invesco, JP Morgan, Schroders and UBS,” said Charnsupharindr. The bank has already started selling eight Blackrock and UBS funds across different asset classes, with products from the other three houses expected to be available by the end of April, for a total of 20.
Charnsupharindr’s team picks offshore funds for Thai investors from the range already vetted by regional colleagues. But he stressed the bank would continue to offer feeder funds. “Local clients have a natural preference for baht, so local funds will remain core to our offering,” he said.
Offshore funds offer greater product choice and diversification to dollars in an environment where the US is the only major market with the prospect of raising interest rates, he noted. “The chance we will see the dollar strengthening in the medium to long term is there. Holding assets in dollars can be a good diversification tool.”
Charnsupharindr added that up-front and trailer fees for offshore funds would be comparable to those of foreign investment funds, but acknowledged there could be additional hedging costs. “This new rule certainly introduces a landscape that benefits Thai investors, and we expect other banks to follow soon.”
Charnsupharindr was appointed in December after three years as head of wealth management products and branch distribution. He had joined Citi in September 2003 as a management associate. From 2004 to 2008 he worked at Citicorp Securities (Thailand).