In the blizzard of increased regulation from the United States and European Union, in particular the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD), Asia’s two competing international financial centres – Hong Kong and Singapore, have traditionally taken different approaches to the further regulation of hedge fund managers. In the former, since the enactment of the Securities and Futures Ordinance (SFO) in 2003, no exempt status has been available. In the latter, there has long been an exemption for hedge fund managers. In the Special Administrative Region, since the global financial crisis the licensing regime has remained unchanged while in the ‘Lion City’ the regulatory regime is undergoing fundamental reform.
Following the Review of the Regulatory Regime for Fund Management Companies and Exempt Financial Intermediaries issued in April 2010, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) published in September 2011 a further consultation paper Proposed Enhancements and Draft Legislative Amendments to Give Effect to the Regulatory Regime for Fund Management Companies (Second Consultation) seeking comments on its proposed revised regime for the regulation of Fund Management Companies (FMCs) based in Singapore. The Second Consultation, which updated some of the legislative changes proposed in the first and also suggested some other measures closed in October 2011. The proposed legislative amendments (Proposed Changes) are expected to take effect during the first half of 2012. If adopted in their current form the Proposed Changes may have significant consequences for both those considering launching a FMC based in Singapore and also for existing FMCs located in Singapore.
While the exact scope and effect of the changes remains to be seen, the Proposed Changes are a move away from the MAS’s relatively light touch regulatory policy and would increase the regulatory requirements with which FMCs of all types need to comply. The Proposed Changes will align the regulatory regime in Singapore more closely with the regulatory framework in place in other financial hubs, such as Hong Kong. However, the requirements of Singapore’s new regime will have cost and time implications for all FMCs, including for larger FMCs which may already be required to hold a Capital Markets Services (CMS) licence or which may have applied for a licence voluntarily.