KAsset's AUM in holding pattern for now

KAsset's AUM in holding pattern for now

Mr Vasin says Thai equities and bonds are not attractive this year.
Mr Vasin says Thai equities and bonds are not attractive this year.

Kasikorn Asset Management (KAsset) plans to maintain 1.36 trillion baht in assets under management (AUM) this year, equal to last year's amount, amid widespread market uncertainty.

The company expects new net inflows to be higher than for mutual funds, which are forecast to decline in tandem with the 7-8% expected contraction of the overall economy this year.

Vasin Vanichvoranun, executive chairman of KAsset, said the mutual fund industry this year will be hurt by the economic downturn as investors fret over the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on listed firms' profits.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) relies heavily on the energy and banking sectors, both of which have sustained damage from the economic crisis, meaning the market could face deeper setbacks than other global exchanges.

For the full year, Thai listed firms' net profits are expected to drop 41.9%, while the Nasdaq's fall 21% and the MSCI World Index's 27%, Mr Vasin said.

He advised investors to adopt a strategy with portfolios focused on global multi-assets at over 50%, with the remaining portion invested in high-growth areas such as Chinese A-shares, equities in emerging markets, environmental and social governance (ESG) stocks and global fixed income in investment-grade bonds in both global and domestic markets, especially in Asia.

In the domestic fixed income market, investors lack confidence in corporate bonds. TMB Eastspring closed four fixed income funds in March, causing investors to move funds from bond markets to the tune of 300 billion baht (250 billion baht from TMB Eastspring) and from other asset management firms by roughly 50 billion baht to other low-risk assets such as money market funds and bank deposits.

Mr Vasin said Thai equities and bonds are not an attractive investment this year.

KAsset also expects the monetary policy rate to remain at 0.50% until the end of 2021. The SET index is targeted to increase by 1,350-1,400 points by the end of this year.

KAsset still has asset net inflow of about 7 billion baht year-to-date. Most of the fund's net inflows have been invested in high investment-grade bond funds.

As of July 31, KAsset had total AUM of 1.36 trillion baht, including 1 trillion baht in mutual funds, 188 billion baht in provident funds and 168 billion baht in private funds, representing market share of 21.4%, 15.5% and 15.3%.

Mr Vasin said multi-asset allocation is the recommended investment strategy for the rest of the year, as it offers the best chance of avoiding negative effects from Covid-19 and trade war tensions between the US and China.

KAsset also plans to launch a new fund next week, K-Climate Transition, focused on ESG stocks as a trendy investment, while other new funds will include global short-term bonds and a series of retirement funds.

The company will also shift the K-Property Fund from Thai assets to Singaporean, as the latter are likely to have better returns than domestic ones.

"Therefore we will focus more on global assets and seek high-growth assets through foreign investment funds for the rest of the year and next year, due to Thailand's economy still relying on old sectors" led by banks and energy, Mr Vasin said.

He said Thailand could produce its own Covid-19 vaccine by 2022, which would be one reason to adjust investment portfolios.

In the current situation, he urges investing in both high- and low-risk assets that will create better returns in different market conditions.

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