Recognition of Funds (MRF) A new era for asset management in China and Hong Kong

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1 Mainland and Hong Kong Mutual Recognition of Funds (MRF) A new era for asset management in China and Hong Kong Getting ready to access the China and Hong Kong asset management markets

2 Foreword Hong Kong and Mainland Mutual Recognition of Funds ( MRF ) was first announced by the Securities and Futures Commission ( SFC ) in January After more than two years of speculation, on 22 May 2015, the China Securities Regulatory Commission ( CSRC ) and the SFC in Hong Kong signed the Memorandum of Regulatory Cooperation on Mutual Recognition of Funds between Mainland China and Hong Kong ( Memorandum ). The Memorandum sets out the key principles and operational requirements under the MRF which will be implemented on 1 July 2015 and lays a foundation for the strengthening of financial and regulatory ties towards greater integration of the Asian asset management industry. MRF represents an opportunity that international asset management companies have long been waiting for: the business opportunity to distribute investment funds within the Hong Kong and Mainland retail markets. This is a defining moment for international asset managers: Hong Kong can now operate as a gateway for asset managers to China and for the first time, China s rapidly expanding population of investors is directly accessible to foreign funds. Currently, China s AUM as a proportion of GDP is approximately 20% and is one of the lowest in the region. The low penetration indicates that there is ample opportunity for growth in the asset management industry since China has an aging society with growth needs for retirement savings and investment diversification strategies. Hong Kong, on the other hand, represents a good opportunity for domestic Chinese asset managers to reach international investors. Currently, Hong Kong is the largest offshore RMB centre. Thirty-eight out of the top 50 cross-border asset management groups have presence in Hong Kong, which is the second highest in Asia. The MRF will allow domestic Chinese investors to have access to international investors and will be a stepping stone for them to expand globally. The current framework states that only Hong Kong-domiciled funds managed by an SFC-licensed asset manager will be able to distribute into China, and vice versa. So, in order to be ready to operate, asset management companies will need to reassess and gear up their fund platforms and client strategies in order to be fully compliant with regulatory requirements under the MRF. The opportunity to break into the asset management markets of China, Hong Kong and beyond is an exciting one. We envision that investible assets across Asia will increase with the further opening up of the Chinese market and the maturation of the asset management industry in China and in Hong Kong. This will translate into more avenues for investment and a wider range of asset classes. We also expect to see a greater number of innovative products and distribution channels emerging throughout the region. Preparing for market MRF represents a mutual opening of the Hong Kong and China retail markets to international asset managers, and the international market to domestic Chinese asset managers. As the leading professional services firm for the asset management industry in both China and Hong Kong, we have many insights into how you can prepare your market entry and expansion strategies. We can provide guided advice on fund structuring, audit, tax, operating models and infrastructures, organisational structure, fund authorisation, regulation licensing and compliance with ongoing regulatory requirements. Marie-Anne Kong Asset Management Industry Group Leader PwC Hong Kong Jane Xue Asset Management Industry Group Leader PwC China 2 Mainland and Hong Kong Mutual Recognition of Funds (MRF) A new era for asset management in China and Hong Kong

3 Key requirements under Mainland and Hong Kong Mutual Recognition of Funds At the initial stage, only general equity funds, balanced funds, bond funds and unlisted index funds (including physical indextracking ETFs) will be eligible under MRF. The SFC and CSRC may include other types of product in future. Their respective mutual recognition requirements are laid out below: Product SFC requirements for entry to Hong Kong Domiciled on the Mainland Registered with CSRC under the Securities Investment Fund Law of the People s Republic of China as a publicly-offered securities investment fund Established for over one year Fund size not less than RMB200 million Not primarily investing in Hong Kong Distribution to Hong Kong investors doesn t exceed 50% of total assets CSRC requirements for entry to mainland China Domiciled in Hong Kong Registered with SFC under the Code on Unit Trusts and Mutual Funds Established for over one year Fund size not less than RMB200 million Not primarily investing in Mainland Distribution to Mainland investors doesn t exceed 50% of total assets Manager Custodian Local representative/ agent Operational and ongoing requirements Registered and operating on Mainland Licensed by CSRC to manage publicly-offered security investment funds Investment management function remains on Mainland Not subject of major regulatory actions by CSRC in the past 3 years or since date of establishment, whichever later Any custodian qualified to act as custodian for publicly offered securities investment funds pursuant to Mainland laws and regulations Must appoint a Hong Kong representative holding a Type 1 (Dealing in Securities) SFC licence Complies with Chapter 9 of the Code on Unit Trusts and Mutual Funds Publicly available constitutive documents held at Hong Kong representative s office Bilateral notification requirement on pricing error, change in dealings or suspension or deferral of dealings Inclusion of Hong Kong courts in the dispute resolution mechanism set out in constitutive documents Any changes to constitutive documents approved by the CSRC must be filed with SFC Registered and operating in Hong Kong Licensed by SFC with Type 9 (Asset Management) licence Investment management function remains in Hong Kong No major punishment imposed by the SFC in the past 3 years or since the date of establishment, whichever later Any custodian qualified to act as custodian for unit trusts, mutual funds or other form of collective investment scheme pursuant to SFC requirements Must appoint a Mainland agent qualified to engage in public-offered fund management business or fund custodian business on Mainland Complies with the relevant Mainland laws and regulations Inclusion of Mainland courts in the dispute resolution mechanism set out in constitutive documents PwC 3

4 Major considerations China and Hong Kong mutual fund markets key statistics Total AUM (including locally domiciled mutual funds only) Hong Kong US$60 billion China RMB5,241.4 billion Total number of mutual funds 1,126 2,027 Total number of mutual funds eligible for MRF About 100 About 850 Based on information as at 31 March Mainland and Hong Kong Mutual Recognition of Funds (MRF) A new era for asset management in China and Hong Kong

5 The following summarise certain key requirements which asset managers in China and Hong Kong under the MRF regime have to be aware of: Fund size Product characteristics characteristics Currently, only general equity funds, balanced funds, bond funds and unlisted index funds (including physical index-tracking ETFs) are included. Other fund types (such as money market funds) do not currently come under the scope of the scheme. Funds must consistently fulfil the requirements of their primary investment focus. Fund assets must be above RMB200 million. Distribution in the other market (i.e. China for a HK-domiciled fund; HK for a China-domiciled fund) must be below 50% of total net assets. Consequently, asset managers should select funds with a stable fund size that is well above RMB 200 million so that it will not be subject to suspension of distribution in the other market. Appointment of local representative The local Hong Kong representative or China agent is expected to play a major role in ensuring mutual funds comply with cross-border regulations and distribution limits in the other market. There would be useful synergies if this institution could carry out other initial fund activities, such as preparation for the fund authorisation, distribution and review of marketing materials. One of the main eligibility criteria for mainland funds recognised in Hong Kong is that they must appoint a local representative to handle share subscriptions, notices and regulatory communications as required under Chpater 9 of the Code on Unit Trusts and Mutual Funds ( UT Code ). CSRC requirements for entry of Hong Kong funds to mainland China include the appointment of a Mainland agent qualified to engage in public-offered fund management business or fund custodian business on the Mainland pursuant to the host jurisdiction s laws and regulations. Limits to delegation of investment management functions The management firm of the respective fund in its host jurisdiction cannot delegate its investment management functions to parties outside the host jurisdiction. Ongoing regulatory requirements Tax Tax Under MRF, asset managers in China and Hong Kong have to be familiar with the relevant rules and regulations imposed by both regulators (the SFC and CSRC). Asset managers should reassess their compliance capabilities and resources to make sure they can meet ongoing compliance needs. The Memorandum is silent on the potential PRC tax implications on non-resident investors deriving income from a Mainland fund recognised by SFC. With reference to the taxation on non-resident investors deriving income from QFII/RQFII or Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, it is reasonable to expect that similar taxation rules may be announced later to grant similar tax treatment, i.e. tax exemption, on mutually recognised funds. However, if such a clarification is absent, how to disclose the potential tax implications in their offering documents can be a challenging issue for asset managers in Mainland China. For Mainland China investors, whether the existing tax incentives for mutual fund in mainland China could be extended to Hong Kong SFC authorised funds is still unclear. Qualified Hong Kong domiciled funds authorised by the SFC under section 104 of the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Ordinance are statutorily exempt from Hong Kong profits tax. There is no Hong Kong profits tax on any distribution made by such an authorised fund to its investors (whether resident, non-resident, corporate, or individual). PwC 5

6 Supporting your expansion into China/Hong Kong Whether you are setting up in Hong Kong for the first time or are already established, you will need a strategy for entering the China market. Depending on your size and existing operations, you will face a range of challenges. How we can help you succeed Service areas We can: Market entry strategy Regulatory, governance and compliance Audit Conduct market research of the Hong Kong and Mainland fund industry to provide overviews of key players, products and distribution channels Perform industry benchmarking and research capabilities Define market entry strategies, including investment vehicle and capital requirements Define business model (customer segments, product strategies, etc.) Define client relationship strategy and implementation Assess eligibility criteria and capital requirements Perform operational due diligence assessment on asset managers and distributor Provide overviews of the regulatory landscape, compliance and tax requirements Provide advice and assistance on licensing application and fund authorisation Provide advice on differences between regulatory and compliance requirements for HK and China mutual funds Assess current governance frameworks and regulatory compliance programmes Support ongoing regulatory compliance Provide statutory audit services for asset managers and investment funds Tax Identify and advise how to address potential transfer pricing implications arising from cross border sales / investment management Tax planning for offshore fund re-domiciliation to Hong Kong Group tax structuring and offshore income claim Executives and expatriate income tax planning Work visa applications China indirect tax planning Tax structuring on cross border distribution of fund products by fund managers in Hong Kong and/or China Corporate, employer, and/or employee tax filing Operating model and infrastructure Organisation structure and human resources Design/validate operating model and infrastructure requirements to support the business strategy/model covering the following areas: Assess operating model options for building out of Hong Kong funds platform, including in-house build or outsourcing to third parties Assess potential third-party vendors and service providers in Hong Kong/China; develop vendor evaluation programmes and RFP processes Design end-to-end business processes for key functions, including transfer agency, fund administration and custody Define interactions with head office/offshore entities Benchmark against industry peers and/or process re-engineering Review internal control readiness Assess additional operational or reporting requirements for Hong Kong and China initiatives Design or assess organisational structure, including key roles and responsibilities Assess requirements and skills gaps, e.g. language, experience, etc. Assess compensation structures, individual tax planning, compliance and talent management processes 6 Mainland and Hong Kong Mutual Recognition of Funds (MRF) A new era for asset management in China and Hong Kong

7 Use our unrivalled network in China and Hong Kong We are the leading professional services firm in China and Hong Kong and are best placed to give you the insights and connections you need to capitalise on China s exceptional market opportunities. We have invested heavily to attract the best talent to deepen our expertise and increase our strengths. With the largest number of specialist asset management staff servicing the largest share of the local asset management sector, we can help you make the right connections and get to know the local regulators. We work closely with PwC s global asset management network, providing access to industry best practice all over the world. PwC 7

8 Contacts After many years of gradual progress, China's asset management market is finally about to open up to international asset managers and vice versa. For insight and support, please contact us: Hong Kong Marie-Anne Kong Asset Management Leader PwC Hong Kong Florence Yip Asia Pacific Asset Management Tax Leader PwC Hong Kong China Jane Xue Asset Management Leader PwC China +86 (21) Oliver Kang Tax Partner PwC China +86 (10) Matthew Wong Tax Partner PwC China +86 (21) This content is for general information purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors PricewaterhouseCoopers Limited. All rights reserved. PwC refers to the Hong Kong member firm, and may sometimes refer to the PwC network. Each member firm is a separate legal entity. Please see for further details. HK C1

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