Global fund manager Scudder Kemper Investments opened an office in Singapore this week, further strengthening its platform in Asia to capture the burgeoning pension market.

With the Singapore government liberalizing its financial services industry at a breakneck pace, Scudder president Edmond Villani says the city state is now a key centre for managers wanting to develop a global investment management business.

Alan Lim, former managing director of Prudential Portfolio Managers in Singapore, has been appointed to the same post at Scudder, with a brief to develop new businesses in Singapore and other ASEAN countries.

According to Lim, the new office will first strengthen its service to existing institutional clients, and then focus on high net worth individuals. Once the manager obtains an investment adviser licence, it will market products to retail investors through distributors. The company currently holds an approved fund manager licence with limitations on investment advisory activities.

"In Singapore next year there will be an interesting development with the introduction of the Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS). The consultation paper was initiated by the Ministry of Finance. So far we have not heard anything from the government but we're very optimistic with the development which we believe will bring in a new dimension to the fund management industry in Singapore," Lim says. SRS is a retirement savings scheme proposed to top up the existing central provident funds (CPF) system.

Lim also will develop the company's regional retail business in the distribution of mutual funds through intermediaries. Scudder, headquartered in New York and with Asian offices in Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan, is the subsidiary of Zurich Financial Services Group. The company manages around $290 billion in assets for institutional and corporate clients, retirement and pension plans, insurance companies and mutual fund investors.

Paul Schmidt, assistant vice-president of Scudder in Singapore, says the new office demonstrates the company's strong commitment to Asia. He hopes Scudder will become the preferred provider of financial products for investors in the region.