The Business Times – INSTITUTIONAL investors account for the bulk of the increase in Singapore’s assets under management (AUM) in recent years, said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan in Parliament on Wednesday (May 10), responding to questions about wealth inflows into Singapore.
Replying to Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leong Mun Wai’s question on foreign fund inflows through family offices, Tan said that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) does not have comprehensive data on that.
Instead, he shared data at a broader level. From 2017 to 2021, the AUM of non-retail individual clients – which include family offices, clients of external asset managers, private trusts and high-net-worth individuals – managed by financial institutions in Singapore, grew by about S$470 billion, based on MAS’ annual survey.
This accounted for about 20 per cent of the increase in total AUM for the period.
The survey does not provide a breakdown for family offices, one particular category of individual investment. But as at 2021, single family offices (SFOs) that apply for and are granted tax incentives by MAS managed about S$90 billion worth of assets, less than 2 per cent of the S$5.4 trillion in assets managed in Singapore that year, said Tan.
“Non-retail individual clients account for a small proportion (of AUM), and family offices, even less,” he summed up.
Workers’ Party MP Louis Chua asked about the value of wealth inflows and a breakdown by source country. To that, Tan replied that MAS publishes the most granular data on sources of wealth inflows by region, instead of specific countries.
For the same 2017 to 2021 period, Asia-Pacific was the top foreign source for the increase in Singapore’s AUM for high-end individual investors, “as is to be expected”, accounting for “slightly over half”.
Europe and the Americas were the next highest contributors.
Addressing Leong’s further question on local investment by SFOs that have applied for tax incentives since April 2022, Tan said the data is not yet available, as SFOs have two years from application to meet local investment requirements.
Leong had also asked about the impact of these inflows on Singapore. Tan noted that while assets are managed here, the country is used as a financial centre to access regional opportunities, with most assets actually invested outside of Singapore.
“But as these assets are managed in Singapore, they help to create jobs and value-added in our financial industry,” he said. “There are also positive spillovers to other sectors, as these investors often appoint tax and legal professionals for wealth planning and also operational matters.”
As these foreign funds managed in Singapore are mostly invested outside the Republic, they typically remain in foreign currency, thus having little or no effect on the Singapore dollar exchange rate or official foreign reserves, the minister of state added.
They similarly do not affect inflation, which “has nothing to do with foreign funds inflow into Singapore”, he said.
“Some foreign funds do flow into the private property market,” Tan continued. “However, purchases by foreigners have been relatively low, at about 4 per cent of all private residential property purchases on average over the past three years.”
When narrowed to consider family offices, he said they have “virtually no impact” on the private housing market, with no residential property transaction attributed to family offices over the last six years.
Photo by: BT