Friday, October 31, 2008

Market slump takes RM21b toll on unit trust funds

By Biz Times
THE sharp falls in the equities market have cut the total value of unit trust funds by RM21 billion in the first nine months of the year.

The value dropped 12 per cent to RM148 billion from RM169 as at December 31 2007.
However, Federation of Malaysian Unit Trust Managers (FMUTM) president Tunku Datuk Ya'acob Tunku Abdullah said the percentage of the current net asset value (NAV) had grown to represent 19.31 per cent of Bursa Malaysia Securities' market capitalisation. At the end of last year, the percentage was 15.32 per cent. This means that the price reduction for shares held by the funds was not as great as the overall market's.

A total value of RM335.61 billion in market capitalisation had been wiped out from the local bourse between December 2007 to September 2008. "Our benchmark (for the NAV percentage) will be 20 per cent by year-end," he told reporters after his welcoming note at the annual convention of unit trust consultants in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Based on the Morningstar Fund table as at October 17 2008, the Malaysian equity funds posted losses of 29.36 per cent compared to global equity funds which saw losses of 40.07 per cent over a year. Tunku Ya'acob said there would not be a slowdown in fund launches but a change in the type of new funds is anticipated. "We will see more aggressive-type funds such as distress asset funds, which will pick up cheap assets. However, subscription to the funds may be affected," he said.

Conventional funds launched for the first nine months of 2008 had increased by 40 to 407 compared to funds launched in 2007. Islamic-based funds have also risen by 16 to 144.
While the redemption rate of funds has increased slightly, the level remains low due to strong saving habits practised by Malaysians, said Tunku Ya'acob.

FMUTM technical chairman Tan Keah Huat said unit trust investors should continue investing especially when prices are weak to enjoy the upside when markets recover.
He expects an increase in net inflows for existing funds since purchasing more units at a lower price will lower the average price paid for all units. On FMUTM's ongoing initiative, it has appointed Mesdaq-listed Rexit Bhd to develop an e-Unit Trust system, which will shorten investors' application process for unit trust purchases using EPF (Employees Provident Fund) savings. "The manual process takes roughly two weeks and with this automation system, it should not take longer than six days," said Tunku Ya'acob.

The system should be in place by the first quarter of 2009. FMUTM will also introduce a fund volatility factor early next year for all funds with a three-year record and above.