Asset manager alert! One size does not fit all in Asia

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English may be the main business language but, when it comes to asset managers wanting to ensure they’re communicating with Asia fund selectors in the different market regions in the right way, it’s about so much more than just language.

For example, when it comes to talking via social media, did you know that 88% of fund selectors in Hong Kong use the equivalent of WeChat/WhatsApp for business, while only 44% of Singapore fund selectors do the same? And that Facebook is frequently used for business by 40% of Taiwanese fund selectors, whilst only 9% in Singapore do the same?

And UK based asset managers beware – UK fund selectors are still way behind their Asian colleagues in terms of social media adoption.

The moral of these statistics is that operating in ‘Asia’ is far more complicated than one size fits all. Whilst a unifying umbrella corporate strategy needs to be firmly in situ, the communications strategy caters for regional variations in preference so that each local market gets what it needs, when it needs it and how it wants it.

How come we know these things at Bdifferent? January 2016 saw the completion of the first Bdifferent syndicated research study for asset managers operating across Asia. We’re pleased to say that our clients who joined the study gleaned a wealth of insight to help them find the most effective way of getting themselves on the radars of key fund selectors. Of course, our lips must remain sealed as far as many of our learnings are concerned, but there are a few more little nuggets we can reveal.

Of course, it will come as no surprise that relationship management is key, regardless of marketplace. It’s all about keeping fund selectors up-to-speed with individual funds, strategies and having a consistent, receptive and helpful port of call in the event of any issues. And, as with markets closer to home, they like the opportunity to meet fund managers to really get to grips with funds’ strategies and philosophies and understand the sustainability of performance over the longer term. In line with this, the majority across all markets considered seminars and roadshows to be an effective way of asset managers to communicate and 74% had attended such an event within the last year. So, having high visibility and accessibility of fund managers appears key for anyone wanting to break into the market or make inroads in their market share.

Perhaps so far, not so very different. But, when it came to fund selectors considering whether or not to do business with a new asset manager, some interesting differences emerged. Across all Asian markets measured, but particularly in Taiwan, reputational screening is unusually one of the very first steps in the process and this will include media mentions. So it seems that allocating some resources to monitoring and managing PR in these environments may well pay huge dividends to AM companies wanting to break into these potentially lucrative markets.

The presence of local offices is also an essential. And it seems that there is some room for improvement as far as Taiwanese fund selectors are concerned. For them, most of these are regarded as mere sales offices, which are not geared up to adequately represent fund managers and manage investment philosophy queries on their behalf. So it’s not just a question of getting sales people on the ground. They have to be fully equipped to handle queries, provide the appropriate levels of technical and administrative support back up and be an effective mouthpiece of fund managers in their physical absence.


Kim Bell is a director at Bdifferent Limited. For further information on the research findings contact [email protected]