AQUA II ready, pending ASIC tick
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Philippa Yelland is a journalist with InvestorDaily, a Morningstar publication.
Managed funds could be quoted and settled on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) early next year, subject to ASIC's approval of the exchange's processes.
ASX head of customer and business development Ian Irvine said the ASX Managed Funds Service (formerly known as AQUA) would let the exchange "interact with direct customers" and make investment in managed funds available to self-managed super funds (SMSF), independent financial advisers and administration service providers.
Irvine told last week's Wraps, Platforms and Masterfunds Conference that "this is not a panacea".
"It's one of the Holy Grails ... a way of reaching the 5 million people who go to the ASX and not to advisers," he said.
Technical work was on track to finish by the end of this year, and all the necessary paperwork was lodged with ASIC and was awaiting approval.
"It's a crossover from the equities' world and different teams are working on it in ASIC. They're getting their heads around how the process works," Irvine said.
Users were most likely to be ASX brokers, and "new-age, independent financial advisers and/or accounting practices in SMSFs", he said.
"They're most likely using equities, ETFs (exchange-traded funds) within client portfolios and are looking for the alpha outcomes," he said.
"This will leverage distribution. These clients hold other assets and this gives fund managers access to these people."
Bell Direct chief executive Arnie Selvarajah said Bell was two to three weeks away from finishing the "plug-and-play" interface for AQUA II.
"It's not an immensely expensive exercise for us," Selvarajah said.
Computershare (CPU) client services general manager Andrew Dyster said the benefit for SMSFs would be the ability to "have a total portfolio view of your assets". Users could go online and "replicate the same model as we have for equities through extension of this for managed funds," Dyster said.
"We're not taking the adviser out of the process. The issuer is not dealing with customer inquiries," he said.
Managed funds would have two models, he said. "A lot of people like to keep the relationship with the investor. Or, we can manage the relationship for them," he said.
ASX managed funds program manager Chan Arambewela said CHESS (Clearing House Electronic Subregister System) was "technically ready" and also that many platforms were existing ASX users.
Brokers' ASX procedures and guidelines for AQUA II were ready.