The firm has been making a push to attract retail investors, building the brand and advertising on buses and trams in Hong Kong.
“We’ve been successful in Asia raising institutional money but like most businesses we want to be diversified,” she said.
Institutional clients account for almost all of the $35bn in AUM the firm has in Asia. She would like to see the mix eventually get to 50/50 institutional and retail.
European funds to Hong Kong
Despite the crowded competitive field, Ho believes differentiation comes through the business model. Natixis uses an affiliate structure, with around 20 specialised fund houses under its umbrella.
“We have suite of specialised alternative managers from liquid alternatives to hot assets like infrastructure. We want to bring the same expertise in a retail format.”
Other asset management firms with similar models are Legg Mason and BNY Mellon.
Ho believes the firm’s European funds it plans to bring to the region, specifically European income, equities and infrastructure products, will have traction among retail investors in Hong Kong. Natixis is also introducing a European minimum variance fund, which she said is a low risk type of strategy.
Davy Yuen, director and head of wholesale distribution, believes the European funds can be positioned as diversification plays. “Retail investors have been heavily invested in fixed income, so they are looking for diversification into other asset classes.”
The huge capital flows through the Stock Connect and the expected Shenzhen-Hong Kong linkage this year has retail investors clamouring for China exposure, he admitted.
“One of the dilemmas investors have in Hong Kong is that they are so close to China. That’s exactly why we need to work on the concept of diversification.”
Currently the firm has five UCITS funds for sale in Hong Kong. Two of them, emerging Europe and Europe small cap products, are from Natixis Global AM and the rest — two US equity and one global equity product — are through its affiliate Harris Associates.
In the next 12-18 months the firm hopes to launch 10 funds, Ho said.