Even with their sophisticated systems and software, fund administrators in Vietnam have to be content for now with doing virtually everything manually because local brokerages and fund management companies have yet to fully automate. And unless they fully automate soon, the current practices wonÆt be able to sustain the increasing volume of trades on the local stock market.

ôVietnam today is like India 10 years ago, but not worse off than Pakistanö in the area of fund administration, says Puneet Gupta, head of HSBC Securities Services in Vietnam at the HSBC Ho Chi Minh City branch. ôWe can sustain fund administration in Vietnam now because volumes are still manageable, but once volumes become too high, that canÆt be sustained.ö

HSBC handles fund administration for funds domiciled and regulated in Vietnam, and is a dominant player in that market.

ôEverything needs to be captured on the system manually,ö says Gupta. ôIf the brokersÆ systems and ours were directly compatible, then it could directly feed into our system. ItÆs a market issue,ö says Gupta.

For example, contract notes form brokers come in paper form. Aside from having to input orders manually, GuptaÆs team also spends time sorting out whatÆs actually written on the notes and make sure they match. Brokers in Vietnam also donÆt have international codes that are used elsewhere for easy recognition.

The manual nature of the work means fund administrators canÆt easily take on new clients, Gupta says.

ôFor every new business I take on, I need more to hire people,ö says Gupta, who notes that his biggest challenge is finding the people to join his team then training and retaining them.

Gupta notes that VietnamÆs depositary is already considering implementing identifying codes on listed securities and brokers are already trying to get themselves registered to get a broker identification code.