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Asset management firms see potential in pension funds

By Shi Jing in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-12 10:00
Retirees and homemakers practise taichi at a playground in Chaohu, Anhui province. [Photo by Li Yuanbo/For China Daily]

One month after the central regulator gave the green light to pension target securities investment funds, asset management companies have sped up their growth in the market.

Two pension target securities investment fund products from Shanghai-based Zhong Ou Asset Management and Beijing-based Manulife Teda Fund Management started to be sold to the public on Monday. Both products will adopt the fund of funds strategy, with a portfolio that consists of multiple underlying mutual funds and each of those underlying funds having an expense ratio.

The product sold by Manulife Teda Fund Management is the first target-risk fund of its kind in China. Public information shows that half of its investment will be allocated to equity assets and the other half to non-equity assets. Qualified domestic institutional investors funds and funds mutually recognized by the Hong Kong and Chinese mainland markets are also included for this product.

The first pension target securities investment fund product sold by China Asset Management, on sale from Aug 28, ended subscription on Tuesday, six days ahead of the planned date. As the company said, the financing amount is in line with expectations and the number of subscribers has exceeded their prior estimate.

The products sold by China Asset Management and Zhong Ou Asset Management are less risky target-date funds.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission approved 14 Chinese mainland asset managers to float pension target securities investment funds on Aug 6, a move that industry insiders said would help to improve A-share market liquidity and offer more diversified retirement plans.

Economist Song Qinghui said that pension target securities investment funds focus on long-term investment and value investment. They stress the rational allocation of resources rather than the pursuit of high profits derived from high risks.

"Such funds will have a positive influence on the market in the long run by attracting individual investors to long-term investment, bringing a steady income," he said.

As the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences estimated, the pension gap in China will reach 600 billion yuan ($87 billion) by the end of 2018 and the figure will grow to 890 billion yuan by 2020.

But at the same time, China's younger generation is not yet prepared for their later years.

According to a survey jointly conducted by investment fund Fidelity International and internet giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's financial arm Ant Financial in mid-August, younger Chinese aged between 18 and 34 believed they need at least 1.63 million yuan for a comfortable retirement. But in fact, they have average monthly savings of only 1,339 yuan per capita.

Jackson Lee, China head of Fidelity International, explained that the Chinese are highly reliant on social security and savings for their retirement. Lack of knowledge on investment before retirement is not only a problem widely found among the younger generation but basically among all age groups, he said.

"Of course education of investors is crucial. It will be better for the central government to come out with some favorable tax policies to encourage savings. At this stage, retirement target-date funds are a better choice for Chinese people who have less knowledge or time to plan for their retirement," said Lee.

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