Fragmented markets in the Asia Pacific region are creating some major headaches for fund managers looking to expand into new markets.
A study by State Street identified regulatory compliance, product innovation and efficient scaling of operations to be among the leading issues.
The company, along with Longitude Research, surveyed 200 asset management industry executives across the Asia Pacific region. The majority of participants were senior executives based in Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia and China.
Forty-six percent of respondents work for domestic asset management companies based in the region, 36 percent for major international businesses headquartered in the region, and 19 percent for international businesses outside the region.
More than 40 percent said they are considering expanding into new markets, with 28 percent saying this is their top priority.
The drive to expand into new markets was particularly strong among respondents in Japan, where more than half (52 percent) highlighted this priority.
Paul Khoury, head of Asset Manager Sector Solutions in Asia Pacific for State Street Global Services, said that the growing Chinese market is one of a number of priorities for asset managers in the region.
But there are plenty of challenges.
“The region is more fragmented than any other in the world in terms of size, geography, language, culture, regulation and tax harmonization,” said Damien Barry, senior vice president of Offshore Funds Services at State Street.
Fifty-two percent of respondents said they need to make significant changes to systems and processes to meet the diverse reporting requirements of the region’s multiple jurisdictions. Even more striking is the finding that 38 percent of managers are concerned about their firm’s ability to assure compliance with fragmented and evolving regulations. Fifty-one percent said they need to make substantial changes to develop strong risk management strategies tailored to each market.
Sixty-four percent of respondents said they were highly concerned about regulatory constraints on their ability to develop innovative products and services, which will be critical to their expansion efforts. Thirty-six percent conceded that their businesses need to make significant changes to understand the regulatory implications of new products, and 49 percent were concerned about management time and focus being devoted to regulatory compliance, at the expense of other issues.