The FSA Spy market buzz – 01 February 2019

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Changes at Deutsche Bank WM, Value Partners and Amundi; TMBAM Eastspring does property; SFC’s impersonators; Changing world, Oanda and CFDs; Babies galore; advertising and much more.

The FSA Spy market buzz - 06 April 2018

Spy has absolutely no idea whether Fed chairman Jerome Powell cares about Chinese New Year. Nonetheless, Spy thinks he has just given the whole market a big fat red packet this week and wished everyone Kung Hei Fat Choy. With comments so dovish it was like a Hollywood wedding (Spy has visions of a flock of white doves emanating from an oversized white cake), the chairman has reignited the market and reminded everyone that central banks don’t really like falling markets. The S&P 500 was up nearly 9% in January, giving the start to 2019 a rather buoyant feeling. Spy is convinced that those asset and wealth managers wanting to push low-volatility products to Asian buyers will soon discover the animal spirits in Asia are back to demanding a bit more fire in the belly. Better write a new marketing plan, the one done in December already feels out of date.

News reaches Spy that Liza Ding, who was head of marketing and communications APAC for Deutsche Bank Wealth Management in Hong Kong, has recently stepped down. Liza had been with the firm for 12 years. Spy has yet to discover where Liza has moved to or who her replacement is. Liza was previously with HSBC Asset Management with roles in London and Hong Kong according to her LinkedIn profile.

Spy has learned that Nelly Poon, marketing & communications manager at Value Partners, is leaving the firm. Isabella Zhong, the firm’s associate director for investor relations, will fill in for her until a replacement can be found. Spy does not know where Nelly is headed, but understands she will stay in the financial industry. Before VP, Nelly was Morningstar’s communications and media relationship manager in Hong Kong. In this year’s FSA Awards, Value Partners won a Platinum Award for its Greater China High Yield Income Fund.

Spy has discovered that a change is coming to Amundi in Singapore. Stephen Chu, regional head of marketing, is shortly stepping down from the firm. Stephen was with Pioneer at the time of the merger between the two European firms, thus re-joining Amundi for whom he had worked in Paris. Spy understands that Stephen will be staying in the industry but his next port of call is as yet unconfirmed. Amundi’s surprise hit of the last 12 months has been its Equity MENA fund which is up more than 7%.

Eastspring has had changes in senior management of late, however, one of the deals the management team completed last October is set to be the gift that keeps on giving. The firm, with its local Thai acquisition, TMB Asset Management, recently conducted an IPO for its Asia Pacific Flexible Property Fund. Apparently the money raised –$91m –exceeded both Eastspring’s and TMB expectations and sets the company on a healthy growth path. Currently Eastpring owns 65% of the firm but has the option to increase that to 100%. Spy also spotted a shiny new TMBAM Eastspring logo. The asset management land grab in Thailand continues at pace as the industry expands healthily.



What horror is this? Spy has spotted a circular from the SFC in Hong Kong warning consumers and businesses that people are trying to impersonate SFC staff to commit scams. “In some cases, individuals purporting to be SFC staff have solicited investors to buy stocks, join investment schemes or make tax payments. Some of them falsely claim to represent the SFC by presenting fake SFC business cards, staff cards or documents which include the SFC logo. If a person claiming to be from the SFC asks you to invest or pay money, you should refrain from dealing with them and report the matter to the Hong Kong Police’s Anti-Scam Helpline at 18222 or to your local law enforcement agency.” As that great showman, PT Barnum, might have put it: There is a sucker born every day.

The drumbeat of concerned noises from leading economists and strategists is getting louder. Spy spotted this from Michael Hasenstab, Franklin Templeton’s global macro CIO. It rather neatly sums things up. The question Spy has: What comes next?



Spy has recently been sent several pictures of trading firms trying to persuade consumers to get in to CFDs (contracts for difference), the latest being from Oanda in Singapore. These highly leveraged, volatile instruments seem wholly inappropriate for most consumers yet will, no doubt, suck in more than a few enthusiastic wannabe traders with zero risk management ideas. The real lesson here, though, is how easy these accounts are to open, fund and trade with. To buy a fund in Asia is still complex, time consuming and costly in Spy’s humble opinion. It is this situation that provides an opening for these purveyors of ephemeral wealth dreams.



With tech investors dipping their toes back in the water, Spy came across his favourite stat of the week. Since Amazon’s IPO in 1997, it has made a cumulative $20bn in net income. In the last quarter alone, Apple made $20bn of net income. Yes, you read that correctly. In 21 years of public life, Amazon’s total net cumulative income was exceeded by Apple in a single quarter. Amazon’s market cap: $840bn. Apple’s market cap: $787bn. Apparently Amazon investors must see a very bright future indeed.

Spy is thinking of starting a creche for the industry. Dora Seow, Franklin Templeton’s head of distribution in Singapore, has recently given birth. If Spy’s dodgy memory is correct, Lin Chew, head of sales at Hermes Investment, and Mandy Chew, head of marketing at JP Morgan Asset Management in Singapore, have also become mums in the last few months. Even within Last Word’s own Asia team, several babies have arrived recently. Spy, observes that there is nothing like a baby arriving to sharpen the mind on long-term savings. It costs about $51,000 per year to attend a private American university college in today’s prices. It is not long before that bundle of joy that currently drinks only free milk starts to cost a fortune.

Spy’s photographers have spotted several new adverts in the market. First up Guotai Junan wealth management is promoting its services at the West Harbour Crossing in Hong Kong. With all the red packets dished out recently, some wealth management services must surely be in high demand.



AB is back on the MRT advertising its AB Low Volatility Equity Portfolio, which is the renewal of a campaign that ran in the middle of last year.



The industry has been generous with its calendars sent to Spy’s team of hard working journalists in 2019. The real excitement, however, came from the red packets. Sadly, they were all empty, ensuring FSA’s journalism remained free of undue influence!



Until next week…


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