Manulife, Eastspring win big

Manulife, Eastspring win big

The Personal Wealth team / The Edge Financial Daily
February 28, 2017 10:14 am MY

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on February 28, 2017.

KUALA LUMPUR: Manulife Asset Management Services Bhd and Eastspring Investments Bhd emerged as the biggest winners at The Edge-Thomson Reuters Lipper Fund Awards 2017 yesterday.

Besides winning the award for Best Overall Group (Provident), Manulife also took home seven individual awards, two of which were in the Islamic category and three in the recently introduced Provident category. Eastspring Investments, which clinched the award for Best Mixed Asset Group (Provident), took home the most individual awards at 16.

Jason Chong, managing director and chief investment officer at Manulife Asset Management, said that the award proves the fund house’s efforts in ensuring consistent returns to its investors. “To be eligible for the overall award, fund houses need to have representations in every asset class. That is why we are very proud of the win — it shows that all of our funds, be it equity, fixed income or mixed assets, have performed well,” said Chong.

The fund house also bagged six individual awards — among which two were in the Malaysia Islamic Funds category and three in the Malaysia Provident Funds category.     

Eastspring Investments topped its achievement last year, winning seven more awards than it did in 2016.

“Moving forward, the team will continue to manage funds using the same investing philosophy and investment strategy to ensure continuous outperformance,” said Raymond Tang, its chief executive officer (CEO).

The other group winners were Kenanga Investors Bhd for the Best Equity Malaysia Islamic Fund award, RHB Asset Management Bhd for the Best Bond Malaysia Provident Fund award and Hong Leong Asset Management Bhd for the Best Equity Malaysia Provident Fund award.

This year also saw more winners from boutique firms. Danny Wong, CEO of Areca Capital Sdn Bhd which last won six years ago, said the fund house saw the win as a good milestone, signalling that its strategies are contributing to the consistency of the fund’s outperformance.

“Ultimately, the beneficiary is the investors. It’s great for them to know we are performing well and this will give them more confidence [in us],” said Wong.

A new category — the Malaysia Provident Fund universe — was introduced this year to acknowledge the best-performing Employees Provident Fund (EPF)-approved funds. Of the 56 individual awards given out, 28 were for this category.

Lipper’s head of research for Asia Xav Feng explained that the introduction of the new universe is line with the pension awards given in other markets like Japan and Hong Kong.

“The pension scheme is something that people are increasingly paying attention to. In the US there’s 401(k), in Hong Kong there’s Mandatory Provident Fund, in Singapore there’s Central Provident Fund, and in Malaysia there’s EPF. This is why we feel it is important to introduce this universe to award EPF-approved funds, which had shown consistent returns,” said Feng.

Giving the keynote address at the event, Datuk Ahmad Fairuz Zainol Abidin, deputy CEO of the Securities Commission Malaysia, said that the financial markets across the globe have been relatively challenging in the recent few years.

“While these challenges are global, as an open economy with an internationally networked capital market, Malaysia was not insulated from these gyrations, and it would be unrealistic to expect otherwise. What is an important takeaway, however, is the fact that the assets under management of the fund management industry as a whole continued to chart yet another year of positive growth despite such challenging market conditions,” said Ahmad Fairuz.

As the unit trust industry is a useful barometer of retail investor sentiment, it is very encouraging to see the expansion of the unit trust segment, said Ahmad Fairuz. He added that the segment saw a net positive increase in the number of funds launched, the number of units in circulation and new account openings in 2016.

The role of fund managers became more complex and challenging last year due to the disruptions in the investing landscape, said Ho Kay Tat, The Edge Media Group’s publisher and group CEO. “The investing landscape has entered a 'new abnormal'. We are seeing unprecedented events around the world that have created disruption and have forced investors to rethink their investment and retirement strategies.

“In this regard, the past 17 years — 18 if you include today (yesterday) — of the collaboration between The Edge and Lipper to present these awards have provided a useful and much followed guide and benchmark to investors. At the same time, these awards have given due recognition to the managers of the best and consistently performing funds,” added Ho.

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Abdul Muntaqim bin Zulkipli
Licensed Unit Trust Adviser
Manulife Asset Management
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