Manulife launches Shariah fund to capture growth opportunity in China, India

by SHAFIQQUL ALIFF / pic by TMR FILE

MANULIFE Investment Management (M) Bhd has launched its new Manulife Shariah PRS-Golden Asia Fund, a non-core fund targetting Private Retirement Scheme (PRS) investors, which will invest in a portfolio of Islamic collective investment schemes (CIS). 

Manulife stated the scheme aims to provide capital appreciation through exposure to China and India markets as the fund will invest a minimum of 95% of its net asset value (NAV) in a portfolio of Islamic CIS. 

The fund will remain invested at all times in at least two Islamic CIS with similar investment objectives to the fund’s. 

The remaining NAV will be invested in Islamic liquid assets such as cash, Islamic money market instruments, general investment accounts and/or Islamic deposits with financial institutions for liquidity management purposes. 

Manulife Investment Management (M) Bhd CEO Jason Chong (picture) said as a global retirement solutions provider, the company is committed to providing investors differentiated investment solutions that could generate sustainable returns to their retirement portfolios. 

He added despite recent talk of potential interest rate hikes around the world, investors need to be cognisant of the fact that different markets are in different economic cycles from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“We expect overall rates to remain low in the coming years relative to historical long-term averages, posing a challenge for pre-and current retirees in Malaysia to accumulate adequate retirement savings through conventional avenues, such as bank deposits. 

“With the addition of Manulife Shariah PRS-Golden Asia Fund to our Manulife PRS Series, we aim to offer retirement savers in Malaysia more options to grow their retirement assets according to their risk appetite, personal preference and goals, whilst meeting their need for Shariah-compliant investment,” he said. 

Chong added that members of Manulife Shariah PRS-Golden Asia Fund will be eligible for free Group Personal Accident Takaful coverage of up to RM3 million per life, in the event of injuries, disability, or death caused solely by violent, accidental, external and visible events. 

“All members who contribute directly to this fund or whose employers make contributions to this fund on their behalf are eligible for the free insurance coverage,” Chong noted. 

Retail wealth distribution head Ng Chse How said the new fund will potentially create additional returns for investors by delving into the growth opportunities in the Chinese and Indian markets, which are considered drivers of global economic growth. 

She added that the two markets each have their own key initiatives in the form of China’s “New Infrastructure” and India’s “Make in India”, and both economies are driven by domestic growth, government support and local consumption, which makes them less exposed to external vulnerabilities. 

The New Infrastructure initiative focuses on the development of China’s 5G technology, industrial automation, tech-related supply chain, and electric vehicles — investment themes that are expected to drive the country’s long-term economic growth. 

“In addition, China’s online retail penetration rate is expected to account for 37% of total retail sales by 2023, with lower-tier cities driving this online consumption growth,” Ng stated. 

She said India’s focus on infrastructure development and manufacturing could potentially transform the country into a global business hub, especially in the fields of electronic systems, information technology, ports and shipping, railways, pharmaceuticals and renewable energy. 

“The initiative will be fuelled by India’s ample supply of young labour force and globally competitive wages,” she added.