Starting a Hedge Fund in Singapore

Staff Writer

January 9, 2022

What’s in the article?

Hedge funds finance the future for many investors, and is one of the investment strategies that institutional investors prefer when looking to secure positive returns. Singapore is becoming a popular location for hedge fund managers to practice their professions in Asia, and manage other hedge funds both locally and internationally as well.

Opening a hedge fund business in Singapore opens investment opportunities for managers as they can be sought out by institutional investors, high net worth individuals, and other clients that seek to profit from fund management. This article will guide you through opening a company for hedge fund activities in Singapore.

How to Open a Business for Hedge Fund (Singapore)

Global capital is moving towards Southeast Asian countries, which are outperforming the economic growth in other parts of the world. As a major financial hub, Singapore is attracting more hedge funds, both foreign and start-up, to meet the increasing demands for capital. Our guide will provide you with an overview of this industry, along with important requirements, regulations, and necessary steps on how to start a hedge fund in Singapore.

What is a Hedge Fund?

According to the Securities and Futures Act by the Monetary Authority of Singapore 2001, there are many investment strategies and characteristics that define a hedge fund. Generally, it is a company which delivers a complete return independent of the move of cash markets, fixed income or equity. To identify if a fund meets these requirements, here are two factors to consider:

  • Investments in non-mainstream asset classes other than cash, bonds, and equities;
  • Strategies which use derivatives, arbitrage, short-selling, and leverage.

Structures of Hedge Funds

Based on the location, hedge funds can be divided into two forms:

  • Offshore or foreign funds
  • Onshore or domestic funds

Domestic funds could be offered to both foreign and domestic investors, but it is often marketed to only domestic clients. Offshore funds could also be marketed to most domestic investors, subject to several conditions.

Licensing Requirements for Hedge Funds

A hedge fund serving no more than 30 qualified investors can be exempted from acquiring licensing. If you plan to market to retail investors, then it requires to get a License of Capital Markets Services (MAS).

A minimum capital requirement should be met to be qualified for this license. Offshore hedge funds marketing to domestic investors in Singapore must be regulated or licensed in the jurisdiction of the principal place. The investment advisers, short sellers, and financial managers promoting a hedge fund should have a License of Financial Adviser.

The following activities will be regulated by the Securities and Futures Act and require a license from the MAS:

  • Trade in futures contracts
  • Securities trading
  • Trade leveraged foreign exchange
  • Advise on corporate finance
  • Manage funds
  • Securities financing
  • Provide custodial services

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Overview of Hedge Fund Regulations

1. Retail Investor Promotion Regulations

It is allowed to promote a hedge fund to retail investors if it is a recognized or authorized company. The minimum requirements for both offshore and onshore funds are:

  • Capital guaranteed/protected hedge fund: no minimum
  • Hedge fund-of-fund: S$20,000
  • Single hedge fund: S$100,000

There are many measures to protect the interests of retail investors, including the disclosure of uncertainties and risks of the returns, which is why it is important that marketing materials emphasize the potential risks, and reveal information such as charges and fees payable upfront.

2. Accredited Investor Promotion Regulations

Onshore and offshore hedge funds could only offer their services to accredited investors as required by the Securities and Futures Act. Specifically, these investors should have a minimum annual income or total net size of asset exceeding a specific amount or at a minimum of S$200,000 for each transaction. This rule can be applied to both domestic and foreign hedge funds.

But unlike hedge funds providing their services to retail investors, restricted onshore and offshore hedge funds only offer to the accredited investors which aren’t required to be in compliance with any investment guideline. Unlike offers to those retail investors, there will be no requirements for any prospectus and other offering documents.

3. Manager Regulations

The managers of single hedge funds should acquire expertise and knowledge in managing these schemes. When investment decisions are made to advisers or sub-managers, they should also have expertise in the area.

The professional qualifications, experience, performance history, and assets under management will be counted for assessing their expertise. Also, the managers should have at least two executives with more than five years of experience in managing hedge funds.

4. Reporting Regulations

The managers of hedge funds should prepare and provide the trustees with the annual audited reports and accounts, semi-annual reports and accounts, as well as quarterly reports. These reports must reveal the top ten holdings and the portfolio statement. The performance payable or fees paid by the scheme for these periods should also be disclosed.

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