Retail investors in the UAE are increasingly looking to Asian markets to park their cash.
Sluggish growth in some developed economies is encouraging more investors to look east, says Dan Rudd, HSBC Global Asset Management’s head of the Middle East and North Africa.
HSBC yesterday unveiled a series of Asia-focused investment products for UAE investors.
The move follows local investors’ growing demand for investment opportunities in Asia.
Mr Rudd says equity and fixed-income assets in markets such as China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore offer significant opportunities for global investors, compared with markets in Europe and the US.
“Earnings recoveries have not been reflected yet across stock markets across Asia. We’re also seeing a lot of companies across Asia going to the IPO market, creating some very rich opportunities,” he said. “On the fixed-income side, it’s a very strong and diversified market, with not many downgrades or defaults. So we’re very bullish about Asia, especially compared with the West.”
Mr Rudd attributes the recent underperformance of Asian assets to international transitory forces, but insists that Asia’s equity and fixed-income markets remain attractive in the long term, stressing the importance of asset diversification.
HSBC is particularly optimistic about China’s economy, lifting its growth forecasts for this year to 7.7 per cent from 7.2 per cent earlier this year.
“We’re seeing encouraging signs now in China following some of the recent reforms. The market has now steadied out,” said Mr Rudd.
Trade between China and the UAE has increased tenfold over the past decade, reaching US$15.6 billion last year, up 10 per cent from 2011, according to Standard Chartered.
HSBC began offering yuan accounts to its business customers in 2011, and rolled out a further range of yuan accounts and term deposits this year.
The bank plans to launch a structured product focusing on Chinese equities in the near future, said Gifford Nakajima, the head of regional wealth development at HSBC Middle East. He declined to give details about the timing of such a move.
Mr Nakajima says Asia-focused investment products are particularly popular with Indian and Western expatriates; UAE nationals prefer investing in structured products.
He says HSBC first rolled out such products for customers with moderate risk appetites in Hong Kong in May last year. The bank currently manages $1.2bn of these products.
The products for customers with conservative and aggressive risk appetites were launched in Hong Kong in the second quarter this year.
In the UAE, HSBC has expanded its team of wealth advisers to about 100 from 70 last year. It aims to increase the number to about 125 next year.
The bank declined to specify the amount of assets it manages in the UAE.