Hedge Funds in Japan

The environment for hedge funds varies drastically by country.  In Tokyo, Japan a hedge fund manager might encounter tougher regulations and higher taxes than in, say, Singapore or Switzerland.  In this video recorded in Tokyo after speaking to the Hedge Fund Congress in Japan, I talk about family offices and hedge funds in Japan and how Japan is different from other Asian countries in terms of regulation, available services, industry growth, taxes and other areas.


Video Transcript/SummaryThe strategies and tips provided within this video module include:

  1. Family offices in the traditional sense are not available in Japan so family offices are growing in neighboring locations.
  2. There is an enormous amount of wealth being created in Singapore. 
  3. If you are looking to start a hedge fund in Japan you will encounter a lot of regulation and the process could take a very long time.
  4. Singapore offers a much easier, quicker hedge fund startup process.
  5. Taxes in Japan are comparable to the US, while Singapore has the most business-friendly tax environment.  

Transcript for Hedge Funds in Japan

Hello, this is Richard Wilson. I’m coming to you from Tokyo, Japan today. I just finished speaking at the Hedge Fund Congress in Tokyo downtown. And what I want to do is share with you an update just on family offices to family office wealth management industry and the hedge fund industry here in Asia. This summer I’ve been traveling around to Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo, Japan and I wanted to just share what I’ve learned about what’s going on in these areas.

First off, family offices aren’t really allowed in this very sense or the term in Japan due to regulations, so really what they have here is retail banking and you get more service basically if you’re a high-net-worth or ultra high-net-worth professional. What that means is that family offices in other areas are going faster than others would, because people in Japan don’t really have the type of service here. So family offices in Hong Kong, China and especially Singapore are growing very quickly, that’s what’s interesting about Singapore, is that just in the last year and a half over a million new people have moved to Singapore and it has grown from 4.2M up to over 5.5M people.

The amount of wealth there is enormous. It’s one of the richest cities in the word that has more billionaires per capita than any other place in the world. Also, 1 out of every 25 people in Singapore is a millionaire. Now, when it comes to the hedge fund industry, what I’ve been learning here is that if you’re going to start a hedge fund there’s so many regulations in Japan. Often times it can take 6, 8, 12 months to start a hedge fund. There’s a lot of red tape, whereas if you start a hedge fund in Hong Kong, your rent and your expenses are higher, your overhead is higher. It’s a little bit more expensive, where if you start a hedge fund in Singapore, you can get registered typically within 2 to 4 weeks to open up your fund for a third of the cost. What it might cost you in Hong Kong is a lot lesser in cost here in Tokyo. So the result is that a lot of people are going to Singapore.

When it comes to taxes, which affects both family offices and hedge funds, the tax rate here in Japan is around 40% and Hong Kong I’ve heard it’s around 16% and in Singapore I’ve heard it’s around 11% to 13%. So basically Singapore has the best tax situation and tax environment for both wealthy individuals and hedge fund managers. Hong Kong comes in second with higher taxes, around 16% but also higher cost of living than Singapore. And then Japan is sky high in terms of taxes. It’s pretty close to the United States.

So if you think about where to start a hedge fund, Singapore and Hong Kong have the least regulations and least expenses for getting started. They have lower expenses in operating than Tokyo and lower taxes. And because Singapore is the easiest to work in, the least regulation, the lowest taxes, there’s just this huge influx of assets and money coming to Singapore. I’ve heard Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, even Australia, Japan and China, lots of people are going to Singapore. I imagine it’s going to keep on growing very quickly and that’s the number one lesson I’ve learned traveling here in Asia and speaking at a few conferences and meeting with lots of different wealth management firms and hedge fund managers is that Singapore is really becoming a huge hub for growth in the future.

Of course China, Hong Kong, Tokyo, all these other big cities and lots of further growth and emerging markets, as there are some other, I’ve heard they have huge markets already. I do think Singapore is going to be the head of where a lot of business is done in the future. So I hope you enjoyed this update on Asian hedge funds and family office wealth management industry here in Asia. I know it wasn’t really in depth. For those of you wondering how things worked over here or you’re looking to raise capital in this region or if you’re looking to start a hedge fund and you’re based in Asia or near Asia and you’re wondering where in Asia possibly to start your hedge fund, I hope this video helps you on your way and to give research on that topic.

Thanks for joining me. I’m Richard Wilson and we’ll see you again soon.

When hedge fund managers are deciding whether to start a hedge fund in Japan they must consider the amount of regulation and level of taxes compared to Singapore or Hong Kong.  I hope that you enjoyed this update on hedge funds in Japan.   

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