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Singapore firm to launch alts robo platform

Xen will be targeting accredited investors in Asia, including Hong Kong and Singapore, according to Katrina Cokeng, Singapore-based co-founder and CEO of the firm.
Katrina Cokeng, Xen

The firm, which was founded three months ago, aims to launch a robo-advisory platform investing in alternative asset classes, including hedge funds, private equity, venture capital, commodity funds, infrastructure and real estate, Cokeng told FSA.

“We are basically trying to open up [alternative investments] to the affluent segment,” she said, adding that alts have typically been available only through private banks.

Not all accredited investors are able to access services offered from private banks because of high minimum investment requirements. For example, in Hong Kong, the SFCs definition of a professional investor is an individual with a minimum of HK$8m ($1.1m) in investible assets. But the minimum requirements from private banks is around $5m, Simon Parfitt, director at Hong Kong-based Pyrmont Wealth Management, told FSA previously.

Although the firm’s target is the affluent segment in the region, Cokeng said that they should fulfill the requirements of being an accredited investor. The firm does not yet have the relevant licences in Singapore or in Hong Kong, but it is regulated in Mauritius, which means that only accredited or professional investors will be able to access the robo platform.

She expects to launch the platform in February. Target markets are Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Beta testing

Xen’s platform is in beta testing and last week it received a regulatory sandbox license in Mauritius.

“We are targeting to onboard about 100 investors, mostly from Asia, for the next two-to-three months under the beta test,” Cokeng said.

Like any other robo-advisory platform, investors will be asked to answer a questionnaire, which will determine their risk profile and recommended asset allocation.

However, investors will have the option to override the recommendations and are also able to select specific market or product exposure, according to Cokeng.

Initially, there will be only one product offered on the platform, which is a global macro quantitative hedge fund, Cokeng said, without giving the name of the manager.

The product already has a five-year track record and has “consistently delivered double-digit returns”, Cokeng claims. “It is something that we are very comfortable to market to a pre-selected group of investors.”

The firm expects to add more products on the platform after it hires a chief investment officer and an investment team, which she believes will be in the next six months. Staff currently numbers 10, most of them with technology backgrounds.

Cokeng said an advisory board helps the firm connect with asset managers globally.


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