Investment consultancy Mercer will today add Malaysian equities and fixed-income fund performance data to its manager analytics platform, MercerInsight MPA. This will allow MercerInsight MPA’s 800 consultants and 500-odd subscriber clients worldwide to monitor Malaysian asset managers.

However, the main driver of the new service was demand from Malaysian clients, says Garry Hawker, head of national funds for Asia at Mercer in Singapore.

“There are not many foreign institutions looking at Malaysia alone in terms of investment mandates,” he tells AsianInvestor, noting that countries such as China, India and Indonesia attract more attention. Still, he adds, the product should be useful for emerging-market allocators.

Most Malaysian institutions invest most of their assets locally, although they are increasingly looking overseas, particularly the larger state entities such as the Employees Provident Fund and KWAP, the civil servants’ pension fund (see AsianInvestor February 2011, pages 14-16).

Mercer has seen demand for a product like this from a combination of asset owners and asset managers.

“We’ve been running composite-type surveys [in Malaysia] for a while,” says Hawker, “but this is a way to get the data onto our global platform and make it easily available to domestic institutions alongside offshore fund performance, which we’ve been providing for a long time.”

He also points to the flexibility that Mercer’s software offers users, including allowing them to slice and dice the data and present it in different ways using charts and tables.

Hawker could not provide an estimate of the amount of assets that will be monitored on the platform, noting that Mercer will focus on submissions from asset-management firms. The software will also allow users to compare their own portfolios versus externally managed funds, but that data will not be made openly available.  

As for when and to which other Asian markets Mercer will extend the product, Hawker says it’s difficult to know. The platform already offers coverage of China, Hong Kong and Singapore funds. India, Indonesia, Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand have yet to be added, although Mercer already has a fairly comprehensive coverage of India funds outside the platform, he says.

Not having an investment presence on the ground in certain markets, such as Thailand, makes it difficult to get managers to submit performance data voluntarily on a regular basis, notes Hawker.

Towers Watson, Mercer's main rival in terms of offering institutional funds data in Malaysia, has run its own Measurement of Investment Performance database since 1986 for Malaysian bonds, equities and mixed assets. This covers both outsourced and internally managed institutional funds, totalling M$54 billion ($18.14 billion) in AUM as at December 31.

Towers Watson has an alliance with analytics software platform eVestment Alliance, through which clients can slice and dice the data into charts and tables.

Other databases on Malaysian funds include those offered by Lipper, Morningstar and Normandy, although they tend to cover retail unit trusts.