2018 The Edge Thomson Reuters Lipper Fund Awards: Public Mutual, Eastspring big winners

This article first appeared in Personal Wealth, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on April 2, 2018 - April 08, 2018.

From left: Affin Hwang Asset Management Bhd senior portfolio manager (fixed income) Ooi Phee Lip, senior associate director (equity) Cheryl K Pola, Kenanga Investors Bhd CEO Ismitz Matthew De Alwis, Ho, Public Mutual Bhd CEO Yeoh Kim Hong, Wong, Feng, RHB Islamic International Asset Management Bhd CEO Sharizad Jumaat and Hong Leong Asset Management Bhd CEO Hoo See Kheng

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Public Mutual Bhd and Eastspring were the big winners at The Edge-Thomson Reuters Lipper Fund Awards 2018, held on March 26.

This is the fourth time Public Mutual has clinched the coveted award for Best Overall Group (Provident). The fund house also won the award in 2009, 2010 and 2011. This year, it also won 13 individual awards — two more than last year.  Eastspring Investments Bhd continued its winning streak as the biggest individual award winner this year with 14.

Affin Hwang grabbed the awards for Best Equity Group and Best Mixed Asset Group. The fund house also won four individual awards.

Hong Leong won the awards for Best Equity Group (Provident) and Best Mixed Asset Group (Provident) in addition to two individual awards. The other group award winners were Kenanga Investors Bhd and RHB Asset Management Sdn Bhd, which took home the awards for Best Equity Group (Islamic) and Best Bond Group (Provident) respectively.

A total of seven group awards and 71 individual awards were given out at this year’s event — an increase from five group awards and 56 individual awards last year. Of these, 23 awards were for conventional funds, 37 were for provident funds and 18 for Islamic funds (see the full winners list on page 13).

Eugene Wong, managing director of corporate finance and investments at the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC), said in his keynote address that the Malaysian fund management industry stood at

RM776.3 billion at the end of last year — a growth of 110% from RM223.5 billion 10 years ago. The unit trust industry represented RM427 billion of that amount, compared with RM358.5 billion the previous year.

“It is important to note that RM45.2 billion of that growth was contributed by net sales that came in the highest in the last 10 years. Unit trusts remain an important avenue for investors to create and preserve wealth to meet their financial goals, from saving for retirement to sending their children for further education,” said Wong.

He added that it is important for the fund management industry to stay ahead of the curve in understanding investors’ needs and wants and how the changing environment will affect the industry.

Wong said there are some major trends that will shape the industry over the long term. The first is the growing demand for sustainable and responsible investments (SRI), on which the SC has placed great emphasis.

“Malaysia is now recognised as the largest SRI market in Asia ex-Japan. In 2014, the SC issued the SRI Sukuk Framework and last year, we saw the issuance of the world’s first SRI green sukuk,” said Wong.

As part of its efforts to drive sustainability, the SC issued the Guidelines on SRI Funds in December last year to encourage and facilitate the growth of such funds in Malaysia.

The second trend that the local fund management industry will have to promptly embrace is the use of digital avenues to meet investor demand for higher returns, more transparency and lower costs, said Wong.

Wong also spoke about two demographic trends — the growth of Malaysia’s ageing population and the increasing importance of women investors. He said fund managers need to put in more effort to augment their approaches to meet the needs of these demographics.

Xav Feng, Thomson Reuters Lipper’s head of research for Asia-Pacific, said US$1.5 trillion in net inflows were tracked last year, marking a five-year high and growth of almost 10 times compared with 2016. A similar trend was observed in Malaysia, where almost US$10 billion in net inflows was posted last year — almost double the inflows in 2016.

“The top sectors that enjoyed the highest net inflows were money market Malaysia ringgit and Equity Asia Pacific ex-Japan while equity Malaysia and bond Malaysia ringgit suffered the biggest outflows last year,” said Feng in his speech.

In his opening address, The Edge Media Group publisher and group CEO Ho Kay Tat said the uncertainties over the upcoming general election and concerns about a global trade war will affect the market in the coming year. Nevertheless, the experts are confident that there are still many investment opportunities out there.

“As central banks prepare for more interest rate hikes this year, investors will need to better strategise and prepare themselves for this new environment. In this regard, the collaboration between The Edge and Thomson Reuters Lipper has presented a useful and much-followed benchmark to investors,” said Ho.



AmInvest still the most consistent group winner

AmFunds Management Berhad (marketed under the brand AmInvest), previously known as AmInvestment Services Berhad, has been the most consistent group award winner in the past 10 years, having won the award for Best Bond Group five times in the last decade. Unsurprisingly, in terms of the number of wins, AmInvest has also picked up the most group awards (seven) in the past decade.

Eastspring Investments Bhd, Public Mutual Bhd and Pacific Mutual Fund Bhd jointly come in second place for consistency, having won group awards three consecutive times over the last decade. This year, Public Mutual clinched the coveted award for Best Overall Group. It is the only fund house to win this award four times in the last 10 years. — By Laili Ismail