London – Fitch Ratings expects ratings to remain stable across its portfolio of global money market funds (MMFs) in 2019. European money fund reform will reach completion in 2019, regulatory intervention will likely persist in China where assets have seen significant growth, and U.S. MMFs, having adjusted to 2016 reforms, could benefit from rising rates and the return of foreign cash.
While the European reforms will bring about changes in the form of new structures and more stringent liquidity and diversification standards, the process has been a gradual one and the transition to the new operating environment is expected to be smooth with a number of managers having already successfully converted to post-reform formats.
The U.S. remains the largest region in terms of money fund assets under management; however, China’s MMF industry has experienced sustained demand hitting record asset levels and is expected to continue to grow throughout 2019. Chinese regulators remain active in tightening policy in order to manage potential liquidity and concentration risks as inflows persist and the industry could possibly adopt certain products and procedures that have been popularized by recent U.S. and European reforms.
While expressively slower than the growth rate seen in China, Fitch anticipates U.S. money funds to continue to attract investors back to the space as yields rise and funds continue to exhibit muted net asset value volatility. U.S. tax reform enacted at the end of 2017 could also lead to additional flows into U.S. funds as corporations bring money back on shore.
Fitch’s Rating Outlook for its global MMF ratings is stable. While structural changes will impact both Europe and China, the conservatism exhibited in rated funds is supportive of ratings stability.