29 Nov 2016

FCA Interim Report on Fund Management

It is always reassuring that the cast of thousands employed in the recently-established regulatory silos are put to good use. Even if it is mostly confined to produce volumes of paper that unfortunates in the businesses that they are regulating are forced to plough through.

Does the Fund Management Industry need more 'oversight'? Maybe, but to a certain extent any imperfections are also the result of misguided legislation introduced by a succession of governments (and increasingly so by a EU and its assorted bureaucracies).

But what benefit will it bring to raise the fiduciary bar from a general obligation "to treat customers fairly" to a new requirement "to act in the best interests of investors"? No doubt that legions of (expensive) lawyers find this picking of words will go a long way to pay for their kids' school fees.

Even more expensive (for the investors, for as they will ultimately have to pick up the tab for this new boondoggle) would be the introduction of an "Independence Governance Board".  It will be most welcome to myriad retired professionals that will be employed to produce annual reports of the issues they have raised and management's response.

How the introduction of an all-inclusive charge could work in practice does not seem to be of major concern to the paper-pushers at the FCA. Trading in securities is still not free, even in the age of online dealing and wafer-thin commissions.

Professional/Institutional Investors are already more than able to analyse the performance and cost of investment propositions.

The FCA report is more relevant for the retail investor who may find it difficult to pick the right investment fund when there are many more funds than equities to choose from. So investors tend to rely on intermediaries - Private Bankers and IFA mostly - that do the selecting and monitoring for them. Maybe more transparency would be needed in that space? How many Private Banks publish their performance and fee schedules on a regular basis?

Asset Management Market Study, Interim Report, FCA