One reason is investor preferences, which can vary from one market to the next. For example, in some countries most savers may prioritise income generated in the form of interest or dividends as a regular pay-out. Across the border, investors might prefer funds where income is reinvested in additional shares or units of the fund.
The reasons why a fund is offered to residents of one country but not another may be more prosaic – such as the cost of producing marketing material for a fund in the local language or meeting legal formalities applicable to the sale of funds. That may apply especially if the asset manager is not expecting high levels of sales in that particular country, nor planning to invest significantly in marketing or distribution there.
Tax may also be an issue – while there are uniform rules governing the sale of funds across the EU, member states are free to set its own tax rules, provided they do not favour local funds over those from other EU countries. The tax treatment of different types of investment can influence whether a fund will be sold to residents of a particular country or not.
In some cases, nationals of a particular country, notably Americans, may have to pay tax in their home country as well as where they live. Financial institutions that accept deposits or investments from them are required to obey special reporting requirements – so some asset managers may decline business from US customers.
This means that not all people working in Luxembourg, and in some cases living there, are covered by the same rules on investment. This may result in banks and other fund providers deciding, or being obliged, to restrict sales to certain investors. While there may be a single EU market for funds, assets managers and investors aren’t all operating on a completely level playing field quite yet.