The asset management industry is a service industry where professionals run assets provided by individual investors. Korea's asset management industry started to develop with the purpose to foster the capital market so that funds could be directed for Korean economic development.
In this report, we examine the historical development and growth of Korean asset management industry and take a detailed look at the growth of Korea’s pension market which has provided the fertile soil for the development of Korean asset management industry. Pensions can promote the development of the capital market and asset management industry in three aspects. First, since a pension plan is developed as a long-term contract, the asset management based on the pension can also be developed on a long-term basis. Asset management based on the pension can be less affected by the short-term movement of the asset market, and thus the investment in long-term assets and high-risk assets can be promoted. Second, since the assets based on pension plans managed are mainly by institutional investors, the role of institutional investors in the financial market becomes more significant as the pension market grows. Since institutional investors have more expertise and greater accessibility to information than individual investors, they can make investments in riskier and more complex financial products. Third, as pension management institutions face risks such as longevity and inflation risks, the demand for financial products to manage such risks increases and the increase in such demand can lead to the development of the capital market. In general, existing empirical analyses of the relationship between pensions and capital markets indicate that the development of pensions leads to the development of capital markets. For Korea, existing research also reports that the growth of Korean pensions have contributed to the development of Korean capital markets.
Next, we report the growth of fund markets in Korea. Korea’s first fund was a stock investment trust set up with one million Won by the Korean Investment Development Corporation in May, 1970. Since then, the Korean fund market has shown tremendous growth. The number of funds in the Korean asset management industry as of the end of March 2013 was 9,992 with total deposits of 336 trillion Won. According to the Investment Company Institute that provides the statistics for global mutual fund markets, net assets of Korea’s mutual funds as of the end of 2013 was $285 billion, which was the 13th largest in the world, and the number of Korea’s mutual funds was 9,876, which was the largest in the world. We report a detailed analysis of the private equity funds in Korea.
Lastly, we study the 「Capital Market and Financial Investment Business Act」 which was enacted in August, 2007 and was brought into effect as of February, 2009. The purposes of the Capital Market Act are to strengthen financial intermediation, to provide better investor protection, to promote competition and to encourage innovation in the capital market and related financial industries. The main points of the Capital Market Act are as follows. First, the negative system for financial products has been introduced. It strives to induce financial innovation by broadly defining financial products so that financial investment companies could develop and sell any financial products that meet the definition. Second, the functional regulatory system has been adopted more extensively in the financial sector. Third, the scope of business by financial companies has expanded. A large-scale of financial institutions providing comprehensive financial services had been difficult to emerge due to the specialized system where financial companies perform only one type of business among the securities business, asset management business and futures business. Under the new law, financial companies could conduct multiple lines of business with permission from the government. Fourth, a new system to protect investors has been introduced. Protection for general investors has been significantly strengthened while protection for professional investors has been relaxed because general and professional investors have different skill levels and information about investments.