Irish Funds Asia Roadshow
Irish Funds headed East for its first roadshow of 2019 in January stopping in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai.
The Irish Funds Asian roadshow started in Hong Kong with the Hong Kong Exchange (HKEx) hosting Irish Funds on 15 January. David Costello, Consul General of Ireland to Hong Kong and Macau had the honour of ringing the ceremonial “closing gong” to close the day’s trading and kick off the first seminar of the Asia roadshow.
The Hong Kong seminar included speakers from Irish Funds, HKEx, the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, Jefferies Global, HSBC, BBH, Standard Chartered, FTSE Russell, Maples, Eversheds Sutherland and ICI Global and covered a broad range of topics including the China Connect programmes, Blockchain and the future of custody and the where, what and why of fund domiciles.
Beijing was the next stop, with seminars taking place on 16 January in conjunction with the Asset Management Association of China (AMAC) and on 17 January in conjunction with the Insurance Asset Management Association of China (IAMAC) respectively.
Simmons & Simmons Irish office head Fionán Breathnach spoke at the IAMAC seminar, providing the local managers in attendance with an insight into Irish fund structures and regulatory regimes. Brexit, its impact on distribution and investment opportunities and trends in Europe were also popular presentations and conversation pieces.
Jinghan Zhang of GF Fund Management presented on the international business of Chinese asset management institutions and Shane O’Donovan of Merian Global Investors provided a unique insight into what is required to manage an asset management business with operations in both Ireland and China. Bernard Hanratty of Tivus covered the hot topic of the application of financial technology to the asset management industry with H.E. Eoin O’Leary, Ambassador of Ireland to the People’s Republic of China delivering a closing address on Ireland-China relations at each of the seminars in Beijing.
On then to Shanghai, where the Shanghai Asset Management Association and China Universal Asset Management (CUAM) were next to kindly host Irish Funds on 18 January in the heart of Lujiazui Financial District, home to many of the international managers with operations in China, as well as nearly all of the main domestic players, with Shanghai being the traditional home of asset management in mainland China.
A presentation on the development and internationalization of the mutual funds industry in China from David Dong Liqing of CUAM provided some very valuable insights to those in attendance. Alan O’Sullivan of BBH presented on developments in distribution and investor demands, with Paul Heffernan of HSBC providing a global regulatory update with a particular focus on Brexit.
The Irish Contingent
Many of those travelling from Ireland for the seminars had flown with Cathay Pacific direct from Dublin to Hong Kong, including myself, Simmons & Simmons Irish office head Fionán Breathnach and Pat Lardner from Irish Funds.
It was notable to see how full our flight was and it has since been reported that Minister Michael D’Arcy is currently seeking an expansion of this service from the current 4 flights per week to 6 flights per week. Following the announcement by Cathay Pacific of the direct Dublin/Hong Kong route last year, Hainan Airlines quickly followed suit with a direct flight from Beijing to Dublin. In January 2019, shortly after the Irish Funds roadshow, Hainan Airlines announced another direct flight to Dublin, this time from Shenzhen, a city just north of Hong Kong and known as the “Silicon Valley of China”.
With no direct flights one year ago, there are now three direct flights between Ireland and Asia, with additional routes expected soon. The growing trade links between Ireland and Asia are now unparalleled in terms of pace of development and importance, with the number and quality of attendees at each of the Irish Funds seminars standing testament to this.
James McKnight, Managing Associate, Simmons & Simmons