Firstmac to expand Asian footprint

Independent non-bank lender Firstmac has signalled plans to tap into the Japanese market as the lender beefs up its funding capabilities in Asia.

Speaking to Mortgage Business, Firstmac chief financial officer James Austin said there is increasing demand coming out of Japan for the lender’s RMBS products.

“We have had a number of reverse inquiries from Japanese institutions,” Mr Austin said. “Japanese demand for our RMBS seems to be stirring more recently.

“The Japanese tend to be fairly cautious and slow to move, but I think that there is definitely going to be some pretty strong demand coming from there.”

Firstmac opened a Singapore office 18 months ago from where the company distributes its RMBS fund through independent financial planners and has staff on the ground to maintain relationships with key institutional investors.

“We have always had a number of Singapore accounts that have invested over the past decade and so we are maintaining those relationships to try and penetrate some more real Asian money,” Mr Austin said.

“Singapore is our initial focus, but we do intend to increase our footprint across Asia. Singapore is a natural base because it’s fairly regulatory-friendly, it’s English-speaking, which helps, and its regulatory and legislative environment is very similar to ASIC.”

Breaking into the Japanese market will come with fresh challenges, Mr Austin added.

“We do see a big opportunity with Japan; however, that is a lot more complicated with the regulatory environment and the language issues, so that is something we will have to think about a bit more,” he said.

 

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