Fidelity International announced its first steps in August to establish itself as a player in an individual retirement account, target-date-fund market just getting off the ground in mainland China.
Those initial moves — a five-year retirement research partnership with Alibaba Group affiliate Ant Financial and a tie-up to provide glidepath advice to local fund management heavyweight China Asset Management Co. — could boost Fidelity's profile in China at a moment when regulators are positioning target-date funds to play a central role in a third-pillar individual retirement savings system being put in place. The new system will complement the country's government-managed pension pools and corporate "enterprise annuity" savings plans.
Fidelity's moves with Ant Financial and ChinaAMC might seem like "small building blocks" when measured against Fidelity's ambitions to ultimately achieve "a sizable presence" in that new market but they are significant nonetheless from a longer-term perspective, said Jackson Lee, Fidelity's Shanghai-based head of China, in an Aug. 20 interview.
Progress toward Fidelity's goal of becoming a significant player in China's market will be made "bit by bit and building block by building block," he said.
Mr. Lee conceded his firm's agreement to effectively provide consulting services for ChinaAMC's target-date fund efforts carries a degree of symbolic importance for a firm that, intent on maintaining control over its operations, declined to join the wave of big foreign money managers accepting minority partner status in joint ventures over the decade or more through 2015 when that was their sole option to manage money locally.