Posted inFund news

Survey: HK fund houses want MRF changes

Hong Kong fund managers want regulators to relax rules on the Mutual Recognition of Funds scheme to boost participation, an industry survey has shown.

Since sales started in December 2015, four of six funds approved for sale in the mainland (northbound) are already in the market.

Going south, 16 out of 36 approved soutbound funds are now for sale.

Fund managers, however, have some reservations about the scheme. Among 35 fund houses polled by Hong Kong Investment Funds Association in the last quarter, only 37% have already filed or plan to offer funds to onshore investors.

Only 9% said they will set up a local platform or re-domicile their funds for MRF purposes.

Call for MRF review

Industry organisation would like to see regulators review the MRF rules.

“Now that the system is running smoothly, the HKIFA believes it is an opportune time to start reviewing the framework and study whether certain enhancements can be introduced,” Terry Pan, Chairman of HKIFA and also the CEO of Invesco Greater China, Singapore and Korea, said in a statement.

The relaxations could “facilitate more participation, allow greater efficiency and enhanced fund choices,” added Arthur Bacci, HKIFA vice chairman and head of Principal International Hong Kong.

Among the requests, survey respondents (about 25%) said they want the subscription quota scrapped.

At the moment, MRF northbound funds can have a maximum 50% of its assets raised in the mainland.

The best-selling northbound MRF fund has been the JPMorgan Asian Total Return Bond, which accounted for 90% of the accumulated sales of all northbound funds, or RMB 667m ($102.3m), since the beginning of this year, according to mainland media.

The fund had a total of $2.2b assets under management as of the end of March.

The survey found another 23% wanted non-Hong Kong domiciled funds to be eligible under the MRF scheme, while another 23% said the scheme should allow funds with investment management teams located outside Hong Kong.

At the moment, portfolio management and operational functions for the MRF funds need to be located in Hong Kong.

Thomas Cheong, head of north Asia of Principal Financial Group, said the key obstacle is the requirement of the full fund management team to be situated locally. 

Part of the Mark Allen Group.