But the funds are rare in Asia, even in Singapore and Hong Kong, which both have mandatory retirement contribution plans that would seem to be a natural fit with the "auto pilot" portfolio of a target date fund.
"The root of the problem is remuneration," said Eugene Mak, a Hong Kong-based managing director at Natixis, an asset manager overseeing $783.3 billion. "Most of the funds are sold by financial planners or bank staff in Asia. That obviously requires fees," he said.
"Index and target date funds are among the most vanilla funds out there, where the fees are not that high. As a result, there's a low interest from distributors to sell them," Mak said.
There are other institutional-side issues restraining the development of target-date funds in Asia.
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"The markets are so fragmented from a regional perspective. It's not possible to launch a fund in one jurisdiction and have it launched broadly across the region," said Rahul Bhalla, managing director at Vanguard Singapore, citing the different regulatory regimes. "It poses challenges from a product development perspective."
Vanguard, the world's largest mutual fund company with around $2 trillion in assets under management, is among the largest players in the target-date space, but it doesn't plan to offer those funds in Asia any time soon.
Lack of education
Target-date funds also face obstacles from a lack of investor education on retirement planning.
Within Asia, the idea of planning for a retirement income is relatively new, as traditionally, parents would count on their children to support them in their old age.
Singapore's mandatory retirement contribution fund, the Central Provident Fund, or CPF, wasn't founded until 1955, while Hong Kong's program, the Mandatory Provident Fund, or MPF, was launched at the end of 2000.
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Rising life expectancies around the region have also sharply increased the number of years spent in retirement over a fairly rapid time period. For example, the average life expectancy in Singapore in 1957 was around 61 years, while in 2012, it had increased to 82.3 years, according to government data.
At the same time, the city-state's population began having fewer babies, meaning the support of aging parents rested on a smaller pool of children.
But even as the demographics make planning for retirement more imperative, attitudes toward investment haven't changed much.
"People don't invest in funds for a multi-year period. The average Asian probably wants to churn and shift their investments and tends to invest less in long-term products," Mak said.
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It's an observation borne out by investors handling their own accounts, noted Singapore-based Sui Jau Wong, general manager at Fundsupermart, a regional online investment marketplace. Fundsupermart's customers often don't pay sales charges for switching between funds, making fund-hopping easy, he said.