April 2013

ASSOCIATION COLUMN: The ability to look in either direction

Pat-LardnerThe Irish Fund Industry Association (IFIA) now brings its capabilities to the various Asian markets.

Our relevance is two fold – while historically it has been to assist managers seeking to distribute their products within Asia to raise local capital, increasingly, the new dimension is to partner with local Asian managers as they seek to export their capability to a wider range of markets across the globe. 

Irish funds, solutions and services are globally recognised for both parts of this “import/export” model.

The potential of the local national markets, in terms of population and relatively low existing penetration rates of investment fund usage, are well understood.

Additionally, in recent years the rate of growth in demand for investment management products in Asia has exceeded that of many traditional Western markets.

Once established, the initial step is for investment firms to build credentials and a scalable business from a strong domestic base. As they achieve this objective they will seek to grow overseas and, in doing so, will set up fund structures and consume fund services that will allow them to gather capital internationally. This is a path which is already well travelled and the industry in Ireland has walked every step of the way with managers from many other countries, including US and UK managers of all sizes.

This ability to partner firms looking in either direction backed by proven skills, capability and operational scale is a compelling part of the Irish proposition and one we are keen for all to be aware of.

Given the importance of local presence in explaining our offering across Asia and building longer term relationships, the funds industry in Ireland has worked in partnership with the Irish government’s inward investment agency (IDA Ireland) to establish an industry presence in Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo and Sydney.

In addition, we also have a representative office in Hong Kong in partnership with the Irish Chamber of Commerce there. Given the significance of the industry in Ireland the embassies and consular staff around the world have also provided tremendous continuing support.

Finally, we also have a growing number of member firms establishing operations in the region and placing professionals with knowledge of Ireland and Irish funds closer to local market participants.

What is important now is that we continue to engage regularly and in-depth with these managers to create meaningful, long-term relationships.

A delegation from Ireland visited the region recently where, in addition to hosting seminars and speaking at industry conferences, we met six of the top ten mainland Chinese fund managers who have a presence in Hong Kong and collectively account for 41% of all the mutual fund assets on the mainland.

Also, the IFIA and member companies are regularly meeting managers in China, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Korea and Singapore and our Why Ireland collateral is now available in a number of languages, including Korean, Japanese, Standard and Simplified Chinese.

But, it is also important than we move efficiently to prepare for new regulations in an increasingly competitive world. To this end, Ireland was the first country in Europe to provide detail around the Alternative Fund Management Directive regime following the publication by the Central Bank of Ireland of its updated Alternative Investment Fund Handbook.

Pat Lardner is the chief executive officer at the Irish Funds Industry Association

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