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Philippine relaxes rules on professional investment services

MANILA, Feb 10 (Reuters) - The Philippine central bank said on Wednesday it was relaxing rules to make it easier for the public to have investments managed by professionals as it seeks to broaden participation in the country’s financial markets.

Investor participation in the Philippines, particularly in the stock market, has been rising but still extends only to a tiny portion of the population.

In a statement, the central bank’s policymaking body announced it had cut the minimum amount for opening an account for investment management activities to 100,000 pesos ($2,082) from one million pesos.

Investment management activity refers to when a trust entity or investment manager is tapped to handle investible funds or any investment portfolio on behalf of clients.

“We hope that more savers will transition into investors,” said central bank governor Benjamin Diokno. “This is in line with the goal to make financial services more accessible to the public.”

It will also deepen retail investor base in the securities markets with the guidance of professional investment managers, the central bank said.

The Philippines had 1.23 million stock market accounts, or less than 1% of the population, as of the end of 2019, bourse data showed. Retail investors accounted for half of stock market trades in January, reversing the historical dominance of institutional accounts.

The central bank also allowed professionally-managed investment accounts to combine funds with other service providers and invest in exchange-traded equities, fixed income securities, and commercial papers. ($1 = 48.0150 Philippine pesos) (Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales Editing by Ed Davies)