Rising investment inflows and market values have driven the growth of the southeast Asian mutual fund market to approximately $US70 billion in assets under management (AUM), Cerulli Associates has reported.

The researcher, which describes the growth in mutual funds assets as “;blistering”;, said the total was recorded after an average annual growth rate of 31 per cent in the region during the five years to December 2006. The report, titled Asset Management in Southeast Asia, found that with the exception of the Philippines, the region’s mutual fund market had been revived since the decimation caused by the Asian crisis in the late 1990s, and will continue to grow despite recurrent volatility due to the general increase in wealth in the region, regulatory reform and investor education. Other key findings included: – An easing of industry restrictions in Malaysia, which helped overall mutual fund AUM in that country surge from MYR47.4 billion to MYR105.3 billion in the five years to 2005; – That significant growth in Thailand’s mutual fund sector has been offset by intense periods of volatility, particularly in 2004, when a rapid drop in AUM caused an outflow of assets from funds set up to protect the Thai economy after the Asian financial crisis; and – While total investment management assets in Vietnam were estimated to have exceeded $US3 billion at the close of 2006, total funds raised by local managers were estimated to account for less than one third of this sum. At present, two public-offer mutual funds are available to retail investors in Vietnam. Cerulli, an international asset management research firm, based the report on proprietary surveys of local and multinational managers which offered funds in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. The report marked the researcher’s first study of the Southeast Asian mutual fund market. Meanwhile, separate Cerulli research found that assets in Indian mutual funds reached $US74.8 billion in 2006. The researcher believes that as mutual fund distribution channels strengthen and the sector becomes more established, firms could look to this country to expand asset management expertise.

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