Strong domestic investment demand powers asset management growth
Chavinda Hanratanakool, CEO of Krung Thai Asset Management (KTAM)
As head of Thailand’s third largest asset management firm, Chavinda Hanratanakool, CEO of Krung Thai Asset Management (KTAM), is in a unique position to see the direction of the country’s equities market as it increasingly looks beyond its borders to fuel further growth. “Thailand’s investment market has continued to grow in the last years,” she remarks. “Thais continue their shift from saving to investment, and that’s what’s pushing growth in our industry.”
“The sector as a whole is growing at a rate of 14 percent, but KTAM itself has achieved more than 22 percent growth in this period,” Chavinda continues. “This year, we intend to launch at least 10 new mutual funds in both the domestic and overseas markets.” Foreign funds will include those in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar and China.
KTAM focuses on domestic investors, given the buoyant investment climate in Thailand. But it is increasingly looking abroad for solid opportunities for its clients. “We see the Asian Economic Community as a positive move,” she says. “There is real potential, and oftentimes we are pioneers in launching new funds.”
Chavinda also points at investment from Japan as an attractive proposition for KTAM. “First, Japanese retail investors need an appropriate international platform that will allow them to easily invest in Thailand and that is still not completed. We have also found that Japanese like hybrid funds that are a mix of risk and infrastructure. I myself have been interviewed in Japan and they are very interested in Thailand and especially government projects here,” she says.
One such infrastructure instrument coming up is the Thailand Future Fund, whose initial public offering is currently in an accelerated process. The fund proceeds will go to new expressway projects in Thailand, with an expected yield that is a premium over 10-year government bonds.
Chavinda’s aspirations for KTAM point to even more growth ahead. “Our mother company and majority shareholder — Krung Thai Bank (KTB) — is Thailand’s largest state-owned financial institution, so our aim is to become the country’s largest asset management firm as well,” she explains. “It will take a while and it won’t be easy, but we are steadily getting closer to our goal. We have a large client base in KTB, so — with perfect synergy — we can move ahead strongly.”
With regard to continuing the strong links between Thailand and Japan, Chavinda says: “The Thai and Japanese mix is a good combination. We Thais are very fond of the Japanese people. We have supported each other well in different industries — we have common interests and a mutual benefit.”
And on being a woman heading such a key company in the Thai economy, she considers it not unusual in her country: “As a female CEO in Thailand, I can only say there are many more to come. Thai culture is liberated and I can affirm we have equality between men and women. Today, you see a lot of women heading Thai government agencies, for example.”