With Japanese households worth more than $14 trillion, and half of that in cash or postal accounts, Manulife Financial Corp. has decided to enter the nation’s mutual fund market.


The company has obtained a license to sell investment trusts and plans to introduce a global fund next month that it will sell using its existing variable annuity distribution network in Japan, which includes 39 banks and brokerage firms.


However, Reuters reports, Manulife will face stiff competition, as there are dozens of domestic and international fund companies doing business in Japan, including Nomura Asset Management, Daiwa Asset Management, Fidelity and Invesco.


The fact that only 14% of assets in the U.S. are in cash or cash-equivalents, whereas 50% of Japanese assets are parked in cash “doesn’t really make sense,” said Craig Bromley, executive vice president and general manager, Japan.


“That difference is worth, in a Japanese context, hundreds of billions of dollars. We would like a piece of that," Bromley continued.


Meanwhile, one of Manulife’s competitors, Hartford Financial Services Group, is also considering entering Japan’s market.

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