As part of AsianInvestor’s project to identify the most influential fund selectors and distributors across the region, here we have created a list of the key individuals in Malaysia when it comes to choosing cross-border products, listed alphabetically. This is the third of five stories covering the profiled gatekeepers.
For more background on our criteria for selection and the first profile, click here. For the other profiles published so far, click on the relevant names: Danny Chang of Standard Chartered and Jeremy Ho of Citibank. The full list appears in the March issue of the magazine.
AsianInvestor published a list of the 25 most influential fund selectors across the markets of Hong Kong and Singapore in our November 2015 magazine issue and over the following weeks online. (The final two and the full list appeared online on December 23.) We will follow this with our selections for other markets in Asia in the coming months.
Ho Seng Yee
Malaysia CEO and regional head of retail marketing
RHB Asset Management
RHB Asset Management is one of the largest players in the feeder fund space, where external managed funds total M$2.5 billion ($607 mi in assets under management.
The firm has partnerships with key international fund managers, namely BlackRock, Fidelity, JP Morgan, Schroders and Threadneedle for global funds, Nomura for Islamic funds and Tokio Marine for Japan funds. RHB Asset Management has relationships with all the onshore bank channels for selling funds.
These partnerships are not exclusive. Ho Seng Yee, who sets the strategy for the funds business, is open to work with other offshore managers that offer fresh investment ideas.
“We keep seeing fund managers, but I noticed that their ideas are quite similar. So when choosing external managers it comes down to who can do a better job and who comes often to Malaysia,” he observed.
Ho also plays a broader role in support of the Malaysian funds industry, including serving on the board of the Federation of Investment Managers Malaysia and sitting on some of its committees.
Ronnie Lim Kheng Swee
Country head, personal financial services
United Overseas Bank (Malaysia)
Fund sales have emerged as a priority at UOB, both regionally and in Malaysia. Fund managers say UOB’s sales team must report progress on fund sales to management on an hourly basis.
The bank has 130 domestic and offshore funds with 11 local providers (including wrappers), and it is looking to add more, particularly global multi-asset products, notes Ronnie Lim, a retail banker with a career over three decades. His area is personal wealth and privilege banking, which alongside private banking are growth areas for fund sales.
For the past 10 years he has focused on wealth management. His career began at Standard Chartered, which took him to Singapore to run its Malaysia and Singapore wealth management effort.
He joined UOB’s Malaysia business in 2015 as head of retail banking, responsible for personal financial services, including the selection of funds. Although UOB’s regional team in Singapore vets external managers, Lim’s team has the final say on which products get sold in Malaysia.
“We know better than our regional office in terms of the demand and risk appetite of our customers, as well as the regulatory framework in Malaysia,” he said.
One of Lim's goals is to ensure Malaysians have the same access to product as UOB’s Singaporean customers, subject to regulation and suitability. But while he wants to ensure customers can access more products, he is keen to work with external managers that show a commitment to Malaysia.
“Markets come and go,” he said. “When there is a prolonged weakness that affects certain products or asset classes, will the fund manager be there to support our team and our customer, or are they going to run away?”