Professional Investment Services (PIS) and Skandia have aligned their respective Chinese operations, enabling them to access the local investment market.

PIS’ Chinese business, Bo Jin, partnered with Skandia-Beijing State Asset Management (Skandia-BSAM) to qualify for a licence to sell investment products in China and will open a Beijing practice in March. “It will be a local business for local investors – not for expats,” Grahame Evans, PIS managing director, said. The office will be headed by Danny Sun, a Beijing-born, Vancouver-educated PIS employee. According to Evans, PIS gained a licence to sell financial advice in China last October but required a business contract with a local investment product provider, such as Skandia-BSAM, to gain a licence to sell investment products locally. “If you want to transact and sell locally, there are other licences to go for. Our relationship with Skandia allows us to transact. Otherwise, we could advise but not place investments,” Evans said. Ross Laidlaw, Skandia chief executive, said the style of product most popular with Chinese investors is generally similar to superannuation products sold in Australia. These are “multi-manager funds, employing Chinese fund managers, with life insurance and life protection built into it, so they get a certain amount of life cover. There will be conservative, balanced and aggressive options,” Laidlaw said. Skandia abides by a ‘three-pronged approach’ to distribution in China, where investment products are either distributed by Bank of China (BoC) or Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), through stockbrokers and security houses or through financial advisors, whose industry “is in its infancy,” Laidlaw said. While most products are currently distributed through BoC or ICBC, Laidlaw believes the broker channel will grow. Both Laidlaw and Evans are pleased with the agreement. “There is greater scope for the two companies to work together,” Laidlaw said. Skandia has maintained a presence in China since 1996, holding offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Jiangsu. PIS currently has offices in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Canada and Honk Kong.

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