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We’re now moving into the final quarter of the Fundscape Fantasy Fund League so here’s a quick update on the standings as at September 2019. To recap, this experiment aims to give the Fundscape team an insight into fund selection and an understanding about investments and the impact of market conditions.

Last week Investec announced it was closing its Click & Invest Robo-advice service. And it didn’t hang around either — the site was taken down as soon as the announcement was made. It’s a shame because Click & Invest had the potential to be different.

Following the recent release of the FCA’s Investment Platforms Market Study final report, the regulator has launched a consultation on the exit charge issue which will consider either a ban or cap on platform exit fees. The potential ban on the charging of exit fees by platforms will, the regulator believes, improve competition and make it easier for investors to switch platforms. Here we drill down into who charges and who doesn’t in the platform world.

Following the UK’s historic vote in favour of leaving the EU which stunned the European political establishment and caused financial market turmoil around the world, concerns over the health of the UK property sector, which first arose in the run up to the referendum, have intensified.

As the New Year dawns, there are three obsessions in the UK: resolutions, January sales, and an increasingly popular trend is Dry January — a chance to give our livers a break after the Christmas season. So here's our take on all three. New Year Resolutions One of the things that we often berate ourselves about is that we don’t communicate regularly enough, so one of Fundscape’s resolutions is to stay in touch and  blog at least once or twice a month. And we may even stretch to weekly blogs if we have anything interesting or exciting to tell you about.

We'd like to wish all our clients, friends and supporters a fabulous Christmas and a new year filled with happiness, peace and prosperity. We have two greetings videos for you. A quiet and sedate version...

The trend for outsourcing investment has grown sharply in recent years, and with the advent of pension freedom it is only going to get bigger. Model portfolios and robo-advice are currently the talk of the town, but in the background funds of funds have been hoovering up assets. According to Fundscape’s  latest report Deconstructing the UK Funds of Funds World, FOF assets may only represent 12% of the total fund industry AUM (June 2015), but they punched well above their weight with 52% of industry sales in H1 2015. So in short, it pays to be part of this expanding market.

Here are a few snippets from the Q215 data to keep you going until the report comes out in August. Following demand from other platforms, this quarter we have added Aegon to the platform universe. Aegon does not provide data to Fundscape but releases quarterly results with sufficient information (assets under administration and gross/net flows) to be included on a quarterly basis. We estimate breakdowns, and because its quarterly results come out after our publishing date, we estimate the current quarter and provide actuals for the previous quarter (as we do with Hargreaves Lansdown).

We are looking for a young, bright intern with some personality to boot. You must have an enquiring mind, be focused and able to see projects through to the end.  You also need excellent research skills (you leave no stone unturned) and brilliant numeracy skills, which essentially means you need to be a real whizz on Excel and technologically savvy. If pivot tables and macros are your thing (or you think they could be), get in touch. Oh, and it helps if you know a little bit about funds and want to learn more about the investment fund industry with one of the UK's leading fund industry research houses.

Following on from our Q115 platform statistics, this week we're looking at which funds and fund groups were hot on platforms and why. The table below shows the top five fund groups and the top five funds by gross sales for the platform universe* in the first quarter of 2015. Invesco headed up the table for the second quarter in a row. It has staged a steady recovery since Woodford's departure and has five funds in the top 25 funds. It is renowned for its income expertise, but its IP Global Targeted Returns fund (a rival to Standard Life's popular Global Absolute Returns Strategy) is beginning to turn advisers' heads. Now that GARS has become so big, some advisers will be keen to diversify exposure to GARS, so credible rivals will be considered. With GARS by far and away from its biggest seller, Standard Life should develop and bring on other funds of GARs quality.

How has the platform industry performed in the first quarter of the year? With the UK getting ready for pension freedom and the general election, financial services were under considerable strain.  Because of reporting restrictions, our full report will  not be published until mid May, but to tide you over until then, we have a few headline numbers to share with you:

Fundscape and the Pridham Report have jointly published the Definitive Guide to the UK Fund Industry 2015, covering all aspects from fund manufacture to distribution. Despite predictions to the contrary, two years after the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) was introduced, the UK’s fund industry is flourishing. It is now the largest domestic market in the Europe with assets of £753bn, and is larger than the domestic fund markets of Switzerland, Germany, France and Italy. Further expansion is predicted. Low interest rates, the rising number of baby boomers and the pension freedom that comes into force in April will help to fuel growth. Five-year projections with pessimistic, realistic and optimistic scenarios have been produced in the guide. Bella Caridade-Ferreira, CEO of Fundscape said “UK fund industry assets will skyrocket on the back of this unique combination of factors. Our realistic scenario sees assets rise to £1,449bn by 2019, a compound annual growth rate of 12.8%. In the optimistic scenario, 2019 assets could be in the region of £1,773n. Or even higher.”