Colonies on the moon, living pods at the bottom of the sea, and jet packs for daily travel—this was the vision of the future presented at the 1964-1965 World’s Fair in New York City. Although none of these things came to pass, not every idea was pure fantasy. For example, the same World’s Fair saw the debut of the picture-phone and helped popularize the idea of the personal computer. Predicting the future is difficult, but it is not always impossible.

Think of this whitepaper as a kind of World’s Fair for UCITS. It presents an overview of the current landscape, as well as projections about how the landscape may evolve during the next ten years. We believe that it is a fitting time to undertake such a project, as this year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the UCITS framework. Although the first fund did not launch until 1988, the origins can be traced to a 1985 publication in the Official European Journal. By the end of 2014, UCITS had become the preeminent global cross-border fund framework, with approximately €8 trillion in assets. Could anyone have predicted such staggering growth in 1985? The current size of the UCITS industry would have astounded even the most optimistic of those EU policymakers. Jet packs must have seemed a likelier proposition.

It is also a fitting time to assess UCITS because the framework is currently beset with a number of challenges. In Europe, it is the subject of an unprecedented regulatory push. In Asia, UCITS faces competition from several regional fund passport initiatives that are attempting to emulate its success. Our view of UCITS in 2025 is aided by analysis, experience, and our recent study of leading UCITS asset managers from around the globe. Although we cannot know the future, we can prepare for it by pointing to the major factors and trends that are likely to shape UCITS.

We invite you inside this, our World’s Fair for UCITS, and hope that you find our vision of tomorrow useful, informative, and free of moon colonies.

KEY FINDINGS

  • Positive Impact of Regulation
    80% of respondents think regulation has improved the UCITS brand.
  • Remuneration Rules Remain a Concern
    67% of respondents believe that the remuneration rules will keep non-EU managers from launching UCITS funds.
  • What Derivatives Debate?
    86% of respondents think that allowing derivatives into UCITS has either had a positive impact or no impact on the brand.
  • Regions of Future Demand
    Survey respondents believe demand from Asia and Latin America will likely rival that of Continental Europe and expect that demand for UCITS in Latin America will surpass demand for UCITS from Asia.
  • AIFMD Faces a Long and Winding Road
    Nearly two-thirds of respondents noted that AIFMD has not impacted their product strategy for UCITS. The results suggest the long road that AIFMD faces before it can achieve the global brand status that UCITS enjoys.
  • Asian Passport Schemes on the Rise
    34% of respondents believe that there is a medium or high chance that, within ten years, an Asian fund passport will replace UCITS as the main cross-border vehicle for the region.
  • Local Products Pose Big Challenge
    30% of respondents think competition from local products is the biggest challenge for UCITS.