Fund managers bullish over PH positive growth outlook

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    The rosy outlook on the growth of the Philippine economy this year as perceived by financial institutions provide fund managers a reason to be optimistic in line with wealth management.

    Both the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) expressed optimism in line with the gross domestic product (GDP) growth of the country this year with a forecast of 6.1 percent and 6.2 percent respectively, coming from the 5.9 percent print reported in 2019.

    Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) chief economist Michael Ricafort explained that the positive outlook on the local economy can be attributed to faster government spending, resilient growth in consumer spending, and some pick up in capital formation with the recent gain in loan growth.

    He further pointed out that benign inflation would fundamentally support a relatively lower interest rate environment, which could help spur some take up in the demand for loans, as inflationis seen to hover at the 3 percent level well within the government’s target band of 2-4 percent.

    Mario Miranda, head of RCBC Trust and Investments recommends diversification of investment portfoliosdespite the rosy outlook on the economy with a bias for strong defensive positioning.

    He explained that conservative investors can invest in money market funds as this gives the needed diversification while providing a decent return, while aggressive investors may opt for a mix of funds in equities and fixed income.

    Investors can choose to park their funds in unit investment trust fund (UITF) in banks, corporate bonds which provides higher yields than government-issued securities (GS), as well as expanding their portfolios globally.

    “We see interest rates trading sideways with a slight downward bias due to risk off sentiments and expect the equity market to trade higher following the rebounding economic growth forecast,” Miranda said.

    Miranda cautioned on downside risks such asthe adverse effects of the novel coronavirus in terms of the global economic growth, wherein Tourism, travel, and other related industries, as well as on some Philippine exports to China,are seen to be affected in view of the massive shutdowns in China’s economy.

    Stringent measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, including in manufacturing, are also seen to result to some increase in risk

    RCBC, meanwhile, has allocated P39 billion—net proceeds from the bank’s issuance of Green and Sustainability Bonds last year—to environment-related programs and social development projects that support the country’s commitment to United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and The Paris Agreement. These investments are intended to mitigate the impact of climate change and improve lives.

    In its first-ever Green and Sustainability Bonds Impact Report, RCBC stated that it had channeled P29.8 billion to fund 17 eligible green projects on renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean transportation, and sustainable water management, in its effort to decrease the country’s carbon footprint.

    The bank also participated in 12 renewable and energy efficiency financing deals, provided direct financial support to Southeast Asia’s largest solar power plant, and largely funded a 132.5MW solar farm in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental. The bank is also the sole lender to AC Energy, BIM Group, with a $232 million project financing for a 330MW solar power plant in Vietnam.

    “The Green and Sustainability Bonds Impact Report is an important milestone for RCBC. It is a first such initiative by a domestic bank in the country to publicly disclose the positive impact of its investments in sustainable activities,” said Jamal Ahmad, RCBC Chief Risk Officer and Head of Risk Management Group.

    RCBC also allocated P9.2 billion to fund 9,347 eligible social loans that address access to essential services, socioeconomic advancement and empowerment, employment generation, and affordable housing.

    RCBC’s P51.7-billion eligible sustainable portfolio as of December 31, 2019, is seen to positively impact the country through various indicators. These include, on a total basis, 2,879MW of capacity to generate 11,630,323MWh of renewable energy per year, 380.9 million cubic meters of water supplied/collected/treated per year to serve 998,225 billed service connection households, 8,650 affordable houses financed, and P15.676 billion in loans given to underserved individuals, among other benefits in the transport, healthcare, and academic sectors.

    With its aggregated impact to the environment, society, and economy, RCBC’s eligible green and social assets also support the UN SDGs on good health and well-being, quality education, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, industry, innovation and infrastructure, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, and climate action.