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Russian asset managers look to retail for growth

Increasingly sophisticated Russian retail investors are seeking new products to beat interest rate returns. Patrick Gill reports.

By Patrick GIll

ASSET MANAGERS in Russia are not yet widely used by institutional investors such as pension funds and insurance firms. However, sales of mutual funds through retail networks and a solid base of high net-worth individuals mean that the industry is growing fast.

Although Russians are traditionally sceptical about savings and investment schemes, fund managers say retail investors are becoming increasingly sophisticated as they look to beat bank interest rates and hedge against inflation.

Legislative changes are expected gradually to attract institutional money, and inflows from pension reform might also help sustain the sector.

Vladimir Kirillov, CEO of KIT Finance Asset Management, says the growth in the number of market players in the past couple of years indicates increasing interest in asset management vehicles. KIT estimates that there are 250 asset management companies on the Russian market, with 460 funds in operation. Half of the asset management firms have appeared since 2003, according to Kirillov. Meanwhile the total of 220,000 investment accounts in Russia is 50% up on the end of 2005, he says. KIT’s assets under management have grown from R8 billion to R12 billion ($448 million) in the period, and its accounts number has shot up to 25,000 from 16,000.

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