Smart Investor Malaysia

Interview with Manulife Investment Management (M) Bhd, Winner Of The FSMOne Recommended Unit Trusts Awards 2022/2023

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

Jason Chong Soon Min: Manulife Global Thematic Fund is a feeder fund which invests in a target fund, i.e. Allianz Global Investors Fund – Allianz Thematica. The target fund invests in stocks aligned with identified investable themes. These themes are fluid but typically transcended from long-term structural sifts or megatrends driven by technology, regulations or socioeconomic factors.

Manulife Investment Bond Fund is an actively managed fund that invests in Malaysian Ringgit fixed income securities, predominantly government and corporate bonds. It aims to provide investors consistent returns and stable income distribution.

Manulife Investment U.S. Equity Fund is a feeder fund which invests in a target fund, i.e. Manulife Global Fund – U.S. Equity Fund. The target fund focuses on North America equity investments and invests predominantly in companies with large market capitalisation.

Manulife Global Aqua Fund is a qualified Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI) feeder fund which invests in a target fund, i.e. BNP Paribas Funds Aqua. The target fund invests mainly in companies tackling water-related challenges and helping to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable world.

Manulife Global Healthcare Fund is a feeder fund which invests in a target fund, i.e. Manulife Global Fund – Healthcare Fund. The target fund focuses on health care-related companies globally.

Manulife Shariah PRS-Moderate Fund* is on the Private Retirement Scheme platform and aims to help investors accumulate savings through balanced investments in both income and growth strategies over the long term.

Manulife Shariah PRS-Growth Fund* is on the Private Retirement Scheme platform and aims to help investors accumulate savings through investments in both income and growth strategies over the long term. Asset allocation is skewed towards Shariah-compliant equity given its focus on growth.

*Manulife Investment Management (Hong Kong) Limited has been appointed by Manulife Investment Management (M) Berhad as the fund manager for the funds with effect from 14 February 2022 and as such, new asset allocations were deployed according to the new investment policies and strategies.

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

JCSM: The past 12 months saw some of the most volatile and eventful financial markets in history. Markets were rocked by an onslaught of unexpected events within a short period of time, ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain issues to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and decades-high inflation.

The unpredictability of such events and the extreme market volatility resulted in an unprecedented opaqueness to market outlook. We had to stay alert and nimble, carefully maneuvering our way around these events amid aggressive tightening of monetary and financial conditions. The key lesson learned is not to have an overly concentrated position in stocks or sectors even if you believe they will experience structural growth over the next few years.

Things can change and unexpected things can happen along the way, be it macroeconomic conditions, a pandemic, or even a war. As a result, the portfolio may underperform when the concentrated positions are impacted by such events. Hence, having a balanced portfolio is important to navigate the current challenging market conditions.

This led us to sticking with the saying that “diversification is the only free lunch in investing”.

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

JCSM: Investors should really look out for inflationary pressure and the impact high inflation has on their investments and wealth. The high inflation has triggered a change in global monetary policies and interest rate landscape.

Led by the US Federal Reserve, many central banks tightened monetary policies aggressively. It will be important to take note of how the various asset classes react to a high inflation and high interest rate environment, as well as the potential erosion of investment returns by high inflation.

Jason Chong Soon Min, Chief Executive Officer, Manulife Investment Management (M) Bhd
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