Jupiter is extending its UK orbit to Asia

Added 14th May 2015

The firm is largely unknown to retail investors outside its UK base, but client servicing, sales and marketing have expanded in Asia, and plans are underway for regionally-focused funds, said CEO Maarten Slendebroek.

Jupiter is extending its UK orbit to Asia

Slendebroek, who spoke to Fund Selector Asia on a recent trip to Hong Kong, said the firm has followed distribution clients that have been setting up in the region. 

"Our business is globalising rapidly. If you become a UK-only supplier, you lose relevance for some clients," he said. 

"We are like the oil services industry: If the big boys drill a well, we need to be there to service them."

The Asia expansion has been mainly on the sales and marketing side. Peter Swarbreck was brought on in 2013 to head Asia Pacific operations. Since then, the Hong Kong office has grown to include seven employees in compliance, sales and marketing.

The firm also has a Singapore office with two employees, which it plans to expand further.

Outside the UK

Slendebroek describes the firm as a retail-oriented fund house that emphasises active management. "We don't do passive products. The other end is global unconstrained, and that's the route of development for us."

Getting that message across to the retail investment community in Asia is a challenge, he admitted. The competitive field is crowded and brand development, which only started, will take years.

"In consumer circles, the Jupiter brand is only strong in the UK and completely unknown anywhere else," said Slendebrook. 

Swarbreck, the head of Asia, added that he's been satisfied with the results of regional advertising campaigns, which will continue this year.

"To differentiate, you have to get your foot in the door by having something slightly different than competitors. It starts with active management. Everyone who measures versus the benchmark talks about being active, but that's up for debate. We do what we say on the tin. Next is excellence of product that is better than the competition. That's starting block."

The approach in Asia has been brand, business, product, he said.

The firm has been establishing relationships in professional circles such as the regional fund selection community.

The next phase is to develop the retail side. Jupiter has a license for retail sales only in Hong Kong, where it sees its largest potential investor base.

Region-focused funds

The asset management business is run from a central hub in London, where the fund managers and analysts sit. 

The UK-centric approach to investment is in contrast to the local investment presence favoured by Old Mutual Global Investors, another UK-based fund house expanding in Asia.

Slendebroek said he is not opposed to people relocating to Hong Kong, but he believes the physical interaction by the investment teams who sit under one roof is important. 

"There's no evidence of an upside in performance by locating people in situ."

On the product side, global equities, global emerging markets and global bonds are the three areas of focus in Asia, Slendebrook said.

Currently, the firm has 19 SICAV funds available for sale in Singapore and 18 in Hong Kong. 

Earlier this month, the firm launched two SICAV products in Taiwan through its master agent Taishin: The Jupiter Dynamic Bond and Jupiter India Select funds.

In March, the firm launched a global emerging markets unconstrained fund, managed out of the UK by Ross Teverson, who was plucked from Standard Life Investments in Hong Kong last year.

Slendebrook said one more product could launch in Asia this year, though he declined to give specific details.

"Regional differentiation in product range is very much in the cards. We have UK funds aimed only at the UK, and the same approach could be done in Asia."

But there are no plans for Hong Kong-domiciled funds. "We have a lot of work to do with our UCITS range, which is a strong opportunity [in Asia]," Swarbeck added.

For domestic funds, fund managers would have to be brought into Hong Kong. "That's a whole new ballgame in terms of licensing. We're not against the idea, but there is no such plan right now." 

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