MPF firms to avoid fee cuts

MPF service providers are hoping enhanced options and more choices – rather than fee cuts – will persuade their clients to stay on when workers in the near future are allowed to switch portfolios yearly.

HSBC Insurance Hong Kong, meanwhile, has introduced four new MPF funds, with management fees ranging from 1.25 to 1.95 percent.

Jason Sadler, managing director of the insurance unit, said members can have a discount of 25 to 45 basis points if they invest in the new preserved fund categories.

“Our move to add new MPF funds is part of efforts to pave the way for members’ choice, ahead of the industry, by enhancing our capabilities as the market shifts its focus to individual members,” Sadler said.

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Employees will be allowed to choose their Mandatory Provident Fund trustee once a year from 2011. The provider has no plan to initiate a price war over fees but will offer more choices, Sadler said. Manulife said last month it will cut some of its MPF fees to as low as 1.25 percent in November.
In a Hong Kong University survey, 24 percent of respondents said they had no idea how many funds were available from their MPF provider and 19 percent didn’t know how many funds they were investing in.

HSBC said it aims to provide a holistic evaluation of clients’ MPF portfolio. Sadler also said HSBC will upgrade its computer system and simplify online procedures to make it easier for members.

Customers can switch their MPF portfolio online, said Alex Chu Wing- yiu, director and head of employee benefits business at HSBC Insurance.

The company also plans to recruit more staff ahead of the implementation, expected in 2011, Chu added.

HSBC and Hang Seng Bank (0011) made up more than 32 percent of the MPF market share, Chu said.