BEA Union, Harvest Global becomes first Hong Kong fund houses to sell its products in Switzerland
New cross-border agreement allows eligible funds from Switzerland and Hong Kong to be sold in each other’s markets
BEA Union Investment Management and Harvest Global Investments have become the first batch of Hong Kong-based fund houses to gain approval to sell its products in Switzerland under a new cross-border trading scheme.
“Switzerland is well known for its wealth management and private banking services. After getting approval to sell our fund products in Switzerland, it will widen our customer base and allow the Swiss investors to have access to our products, which are investing in Asian markets,” said Eleanor Wan, chief executive of BEA Union Investment Management in an interview with the South China Morning Post in Zurich.
Wan is in Switzerland for two weeks promoting the launch of two funds in a number of cities. They are the BEA Union Inv Asian Bond and Currency Fund, with assets under management of US$380 million, and the Asia Pacific Multi-Income Fund, worth US$500 million, which invests in stocks and bonds.
The two Hong Kong products are among the first batch of four funds approved by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) to be sold to Swiss investors under a cross-border scheme announced in December last year.
Harvest Global Investments in June gained approval by the FINMA to sell its China Equity strategy and Asia Frontier strategy funds in Switzerland under the scheme.
Wan said her company, a joint venture between Bank of East Asia and Union Investment of Frankfurt, would sell the two funds via private banks, independent financial advisers, and other banking partners. The master sales agent is the French bank BNP Paribas.
She said Swiss investors are interested in the two funds because they want to invest in Asian markets, which are benefiting from economic growth and strong market sentiment.
Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index has risen 25 per cent in the first three quarter of this year, making it the world’s best performing market, driven by the rapid economic growth in mainland China and the rest of Asia.
“There are a lot of wealthy investors in Switzerland but there are very few Asian investment products in the country. This is why there is a lot of interest in our Asian fund products,” Wan said, adding that BEA would apply to sell further fund products in Switzerland.
The FINMA and the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), Hong Kong’s securities watchdog, signed an agreement to establish the Switzerland-Hong Kong Mutual Recognition scheme, which allow eligible public funds to be sold in each other’s market through a streamlined vetting process.
The scheme also established a framework for exchange of information, regular dialogue as well as regulatory cooperation in relation to the cross-border offering of public funds.
It is the second cross-border fund sales agreement signed by the SFC with overseas regulators, after Hong Kong and the mainland launched the first mutual recognition schemes two years ago to cross-sell fund products.
Ashley Alder, chief executive of the SFC, said the new scheme “will not only create new opportunities for the Swiss and Hong Kong asset management industries, but also provide investors in both markets with a broader selection of fund products.”
The SFC signed similar cross-border fund sales agreements with the French regulator earlier this year.