Asia retirement sector to experience boost as opportunities are on the rise

Pedro Gonçalves
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Asia retirement sector to experience boost as opportunities are on the rise

Retail investors are becoming increasingly keen on retirement products in Asia, which could mean that Asia's retirement sector is set to experience growth.

According to research from Cerulli, opportunities are on the rise as Asia-Pacific markets come under increasing pressure to ensure adequate assets for the aged populations. Some Asian markets are looking to strengthen their multi-pillar pension systems so that pension funds and basic social security programs will have some buffer from shouldering the burden of providing retirement income.

Pension funds are now in the process of reviewing their asset allocations and fee models to improve their returns, according to the Asian Retirement Markets 2019: Eyeing the Golden Nest Egg report.

Given the pressing need to ensure the adequacy of pension funds, asset managers have the opportunity to enter the market"

"Given the pressing need to ensure the adequacy of pension funds, asset managers have the opportunity to enter the market. However, different markets have varying levels of hurdles in accessing this opportunity. Managers will need to be selective in allocating their resources," said Della Lin, a senior analyst at Cerulli.

As the latest two markets to offer personal retirement schemes, China introduced tax-deferred pension insurance schemes and pension target securities in 2018, while Taiwan launched its regulator-led initiative, "Enjoy Your Retirement", in July 2019. Within Southeast Asia, the concept of retirement investing is still relatively immature among retail investors due to low financial awareness.

Meanwhile, private insurance annuities remain essential in enhancing individuals' retirement assets. Target retirement funds are slowly re-emerging in some markets, such as Korea, China, and Taiwan. A Cerulli survey conducted earlier this year suggests that more asset managers are looking to promote target-date funds to distributors over the next two years, as compared to a similar study in 2018. Exchange-traded funds are the other potential retirement tools managers are interested in exploring to serve investors' needs.

"Although there are many opportunities for asset managers in the retail segment, challenges remain, such as active competition from life insurers, investors' reliance on low-yield investments, and perception of mutual funds as short-term instruments," said  Lin. "Besides understanding investors' preferred product features, it is also important for managers to manage investors' expectations and explain to them the long-term nature of retirement products."

 

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