Spy found himself back in the Lion City this week. Gin fever seems to have swept the town. Every bar with upmarket pretensions is offering mother’s ruin in evermore exotic varieties. After being persuaded by one emerging markets fund manager to try several concoctions, Spy can make the following wholehearted recommendation: Two measures of Sipsmith gin, topped with Fever Tree soda water and a large slice of pink grapefruit. The perfect tipple for rebounding markets: tasty with a touch of whimsy.
Spy hears on the ever-reliable grapevine that a change is in store at Jupiter. David Conway, who pioneered the promotion of the Jupiter range of funds in Asia, is rumoured to be moving back to London to take on a more global role. Spy hears that Madeline Han will remain in Singapore, supporting private bank clients in the region. Jupiter has enjoyed tremendous success in the last few years, with numerous key players such as Julius Baer, UBS and Citibank now distributing their funds.
Rumours of gold’s death, are, as Mark Twain may have put it, greatly exaggerated. Spy took a look at the top performing funds on ANZ’s fund list this month. Seven of the top ten are Blackrock varieties with the BlackRock Global Funds - World Gold Fund A2 SGD Hedged returning a staggering 30.1% in the last month alone. Funds by First State and JP Morgan Asset Management round out the top 10.
Spy has long lamented the dubious promotions offered by banks in the region. He was happy to note that DBS Treasures has decided to go for cold hard cash. In a new wealth management promo, Southeast Asia’s largest wealth manager by assets, is offering $1,600 in hard cash if you put $350,000 down. Fund charges are only 0.5% if you trade by 31st of March. Hat tip to the marketing department for avoiding Takashimaya vouchers for a change.
Spy’s colleagues at sister publication International Adviser report that Generali Investments, the asset management arm of Italian insurance giant Generali, is eyeing an entry to Asia, albeit not for a little while. Generali Investments is expanding with a new office in London. Santo Borsellino, CEO of GI, is quoted as saying, “There will be a time when we start looking at Asia."
Goldman Sachs Asset Management has launched two ETFs in the last week. The firm’s ActiveBeta Europe Equity ETF and its ActiveBeta Japan Equity ETF were listed. Readers may recall that Goldman, fairly late to the smart beta game, promotes their range as “active beta” to try and differentiate from iShares and Vanguard. The fees are only 25 basis points, which marks a change from the 35bps GSAM was charging for the GSAM International Equity ETF, which, incidentally, has also been reduced to 25bp after only four months in the market. Deflation, what deflation?
Invitations cross Spy’s desk on a regular basis: fund introductions, market updates, the occasional conference. Spy had to smile at a recent invitation from IMAS for their 17th Annual Conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Singapore, which is held next week. Mark Mobius, executive chairman of the Templeton emerging markets group, is the distinguished keynote speaker. The only catch is that Spy had to agree to the following terms: “To facilitate discussions among participants, media are requested not to ask questions from the conference floor during audience Q&As.” Ah, so you want us to give you free media coverage but not actually ask anything important….plus ça change plus c'est la même chose, methinks.
So Super Mario Draghi of the ECB has decided to don his cape and fly across Europe, notes Spy. Hard on the heels of Japanese negative rates, Mario has given Europe the same. Bloomberg handily reports: “The president announced cuts to all three of the ECB’s rates, bringing the deposit rate to minus 0.4 percent, and a €20bn expansion of quantitative easing that for the first time opens the door to purchases of corporate bonds.” Spy may be a humble, grizzled journalist, but this smacks of desperation. The FTSE, Dax and CAC all closed negatively yesterday. Mr Market has not exactly embraced the ECB’s move.
Spy’s photographers have been out and spotted some asset manager advertising in Hong Kong.
Standard Life Investments are busy brand building:
While ChinaAMC promotes its Return Securities Investment Fund, which has started sales in local banks:
Until next time…