The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Collective Investment Schemes Framework (the Framework) was first established on Oct. 1, 2013, under the auspices of the ASEAN Capital Markets Forum (ACMF). The Framework facilitates cross-border offers of collective investment schemes (CIS) to retail investors in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand (each a signatory jurisdiction). The Framework allows managers based in these countries to directly offer CIS constituted and authorized in their home jurisdiction to retail investors in the other two signatory jurisdictions under a streamlined authorization process, provided that the CIS satisfies a set of common standards specified in the Standards of Qualifying CIS. On Feb. 26, 2018, the ACMF issued a media release announcing that the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the Securities Commission Malaysia and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand have signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance the Framework by revising the Standards of Qualifying CIS and having the signatory jurisdictions commit to a standardized time-to-market timeline.
Revision of the Standards of Qualifying CIS (the Standards)
The revised Standards took effect Feb. 23, 2018 and can be found here. The key changes to the Standards are these:
Experience of Fund Manager
The qualifying criterion for a fund manager's minimum assets under management (AUM) is decreased from US$500 million to US$350 million, so as to enable a wider range of fund managers to participate in the Framework. Further, the requirement for the fund manager to have the requisite experience is clarified. The fund manager must demonstrate to the satisfaction of its home regulator that for the past five years it has been responsible for the operation of CIS that have been offered to the general public in a signatory jurisdiction or a jurisdiction that has a CIS regulatory framework broadly similar in effectiveness to that of its home jurisdiction. The fund manager may also rely on the experience and expertise of its related companies in fulfilling this experience requirement, provided that the fund manager and the related companies have a degree of commonality in relation to their decision-making processes, business processes and personnel.
Under the old Standards, a fund manager must maintain shareholders' equity of at least US$1 million and maintain additional capital equivalent to 0.1 percent of the AUM in excess of US$500 million. The revised Standards further clarify that the amount of additional capital required on top of the US$1 million will be capped at US$20 million.
Under the old Standards, a fund manager may delegate the management of more than 20 percent of CIS to a delegate only if certain conditions are met. One such condition is that the delegate must be regulated by a signatory regulator.
The revised Standards have now relaxed this condition by allowing such a delegate to be regulated by any regulator with a CIS regulatory framework that is broadly similar in effectiveness to the manager's home jurisdiction, as an alternative option to being regulated by a signatory regulator.
Ongoing Supervision of the Fund Manager
The revised Standards provide clarification on the entities that may conduct independent reviews of the CIS and the fund manager as required under the Framework. In the case of Singapore, such entities refer to public accountants registered under the Accountants Act (Chapter 2 of Singapore) or a trustee approved under the Securities and Futures Act (Chapter 289 of Singapore).
The revised Standards also clarify the information that, at minimum, must be contained in the independent reviewer's report. This information includes details of matters that cause the independent reviewer to consider that the CIS did not comply with, or is likely not to have complied with, the Standards during the review period.
Commitment to Timing
In addition to the revisions to the Standards, the signatory jurisdictions are committing to review within 21 calendar days a complete application for the authorization of a fund under the Framework.