Maybank’s Singapore asset management arm will be adding two new funds this year and intends to use the Asean Collective Investment Scheme (CIS) to sell them in Malaysia and Thailand.

Both funds will be launched on the back of client interest and it comes just months after Maybank AM launched its funds business in the city-state. 

Other asset management firms are also looking to use passporting to grow their retail business in the region, despite criticism that has been directed at the cross-border schemes.

Goh Seng Kee, chief executive of Maybank AM Singapore, told AsianInvestor it aims to launch a dollar-denominated Asian short-term fixed income fund and an Asian income equity fund during the second half of this year.

The former will provide short-term dollar fixed income solutions where underlying investment exposures are below one year and are made up of a combination of bank placements and short-term bonds. The Asian income equity fund targets a moderate risk portfolio of equities that is intended to generate a high dividend income stream.

Maybank AM Singapore already has two funds qualified for fund passporting under the Asean CIS scheme. It was among the first managers whose funds were approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore last year. It launched the Asian fixed income and Asian equity funds towards the end of last year.

Apart from Maybank AM, other firms with approved funds for passporting are Nikko Asset Management together with Affin Hwang Asset Management (Singapore dividend equity fund), and CIMB Principal Asset Management (Asean total return fund). Like Maybank, CIMB Principal has ambitions to grow its retail business outside of Malaysia through the CIS scheme. None of these qualifying CIS funds, however, have been distributed across the border.

Goh said its two funds have been seeded and are being managed to gain track record first. The firm plans to start marketing the funds in the second half of 2015, first in Singapore and may look to offer these to Malaysian and Thai investors at a later date.

Maybank AM Singapore started its funds business late last year and is looking to partner with local and regional banks for fund distribution.

“We never had mutual funds in Singapore before late last year. Now with the funds being created there is reason to push to have a bigger dialogue with distributors and clients,” said Goh, who is looking to hire an additional relationship manager to build the firm’s fund distribution and sales efforts.

Goh said the hiring process is close to completion. The person it will hire will have a regional remit, covering Asia excluding Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia as Maybank AM Group has onshore operations in the latter three markets.

Goh added: “We recognise that the group is new, and we will aim for the regional-centric private banks where we can provide interesting solutions, as a differentiator. In addition, we will directly market investment solutions to family office and institutional clients.”

The firm will also rely on Maybank, Malaysia’s largest retail bank, for funds distribution in Malaysia and other Southeast Asian markets. Maybank is the fourth-largest banking group in Southeast Asia with $171.5 billion in assets.