Smart Investor Malaysia

Interview with AmFunds Management Bhd, Winner Of The FSMOne Recommended Unit Trusts Awards 2022/2023

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AmInvest is the brand name for the funds management business of AmFunds Management Berhad and AmIslamic Funds Management Sdn Bhd. They are a multiple award-winning fund management company based in Malaysia with 40 years of investing experience managing unit trust funds, wholesale funds, institutional mandates, Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) and Private Retirement Schemes (PRS), encompassing both conventional and Shariah-compliant funds.

As an investor, we need to have a diversified portfolio. This is to ensure that it can still give a good returns, be it a bear market or a bull market. With global markets showing signs of a slowdown, it is good to have some exposure in equities and some in fixed income. Being on the defensive is a good strategy in these times of uncertainty.

We spoke to Goh Wee Peng, chief executive officer and Wong Yew Joe, chief investment officer of AmFunds Management Bhd to get their views on their winning funds. The winning funds are diversified well enough, with equity exposure in Europe, fixed incomes in Asia ex-Japan, in Malaysia itself as well as some foreign exposure. We are able to get more insights on the funds itself, the challenges that they faced in the past 12 months as well as the market trends in the near future.

Smart Investor: Congratulations! Can you tell us more about your winning funds in the FSMOne Recommended Unit Trusts Awards 2022/2023?

Wong Yew Joe: We are proud to be able to win 4 prestigious awards, for Equity – Europe category (Europe Equity Growth fund and 3 fixed income fund awards for Asia, Short Duration and Malaysia categories by AmTactical Bond, AmIncome Plus and AmDynamic Bond respectively.

Given the challenging markets in 2021, these achievements reflected well on the fund’s strategy over the review period. The Europe Equity Growth focuses on Europe growth stocks which have benefited from the recovery from Europe’s stock markets, while the fixed income funds took a more conservative approach in managing the fixed income investments in a yield risk environment.

SI: What are the challenges you have faced in the past 12 months?

Wong Yew Joe: The biggest challenge for managing fixed income investment was managing the portfolio risk as yields had risen quickly in the bond markets. A rising yield environment has a direct adverse impact on bonds. Malaysian government bond yields rose by up to 100 basis points in 2021. We had to trim down the portfolio duration and rebalance our exposure from government bonds to more corporate bonds.

We generally maintained sufficient cash buffers in the face of greater market volatility and potential fund redemptions. The key strategy was to stay defensive but keep invested enough to generate sufficient income. We diversified our portfolio into more local and regional corporate bonds. The lower trading volume in the market last year had resulted in less trading opportunities, hence we had to focus more on generating income from bond coupons.

SI: What are the market trends that an investor should look out for in the near future?

Goh Wee Peng: We are seeing stronger trends towards Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investments. Investors are also becoming more aware of the need for sustainability for the global community and are hence aligning their values and beliefs accordingly in their investments. We believe the investment returns and the sustainability principles will eventually align, similar to the law of supply and demand. Companies that are in line with the environment and socially responsible themes together with strong governance are likely to see growth in value.

AmInvest’s recent fund offerings are consistent with AmBank Group’s commitment to sustainability. Since May 2021, AmInvest has launched four Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI) qualified funds under our Sustainable Series, namely, Positive Change Fund, Climate Tech Fund, Nutrition Fund and Health Fund, with more funds slated to be launched in the pipeline.

Goh Wee Peng, chief executive officer, AmFunds Management Bhd
Wong Yew Joe, chief investment officer, AmFunds Management Bhd
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