Custom House was established in Ireland in 1989 to provide a broad range of fund services to its clients. The group merged into Equity Trust on September 1, 2008, in effect becoming a joint venture between Equity Trust and the Custom House management. At that time, the holding company Custom House Global Fund Services was established in Malta. The company now has more than 260 employees and subsidiary offices in Chicago, Dublin, Guernsey, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Singapore.
Custom House Singapore first opened its doors in April 2008 and has since grown to more than 60 personnel. The office has a twofold function, to provide a full range of fund services to a growing number of Asia Pacific region clients, and to process funds managed by Custom House’s other offices.
Combined with the services offered by Equity Trust, Custom House is able to offer a one-stop shop solution not only to funds but to fund managers requiring services including company formation, licensing, corporate and accounting. This synergy with Equity Trust also makes possible a broad range of products including family office and private equity structuring and servicing.
As well as servicing clients in the region’s more established fund jurisdictions of Singapore and Hong Kong, Custom House Singapore is expanding its reach by targeting India, China, Indonesia and other emerging markets.
“We’re certainly looking at all emerging markets,” says Custom House Singapore managing director Ralph Chicktong. “We are regular attendees as sponsors and delegates at seminars and conference and have forged sound relationships with a wide variety of intermediaries in a number of Asian countries. The thrust this year is to concentrate on India and China. In fact, we’ve just added a sales and marketing executive based in Hong Kong whose focus will be on Hong Kong and mainland China.”
The office is regarded as a key hub for the group’s expansion not only across the Asia Pacific region but also as a cost-efficient and high-quality operations centre for expanding business in the Americas and Europe.
Fund formation, fund administration and shareholder services are the three primary business offerings in all Custom House offices. Of all NAVs produced, approximately 25 per cent are for daily valuations (a high percentage amongst administrators) and Custom House operates on a global 24/5 basis.
“We services funds of all sizes and investment strategies, but the nature of the Asian market at this particular point in time is such that opportunities exist with start-up funds,” Chicktong says.
“A lot of our business in Asia has come from start-ups and existing fund managers looking to launch a second or third fund. To meet the opportunity in this market, we have recently introduced a product called Nascent, a platform designed to assist start-ups by giving them a low-cost formation and servicing structure for the period when they are endeavouring to establish a track record.”
Chicktong argues that consistently high quality of service is what sets Custom House Singapore apart from its competitors, saying: “Irrespective of the size and profile of the fund, we strive to address all client queries with professionalism and timeliness.”
He adds that winning the Hedgeweek award has come at an opportune time: “For funds both large and small, it reflects our commitment and dedication to client servicing in the region. It’s certainly an award we welcome.”