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.”
You’re probably wondering where we’ve been these past few months, and have been bemoaning the lack of insightful posts and general industry chitchat. The summer is always a busy time for us, but as well as our usual publications and quarterly workload, we’ve had our noses to the grindstone producing a large study on behalf of Alfi, the Association of Luxembourg Fund Industry.
This is the first time week that we’ve actually been able to come up for air. The report is done and dusted, it has been sent off to the printers and I’m finalising the presentation for the Alfi conference next week when the report will be launched. Details of the conference on 23rd and 24th September can be found at www.alfi.lu. However, you don’t have to attend to get hold of the report. On the day of the launch, it will be uploaded to the website and will be freely available to download (we’ll post a link on here to make it easier for you to find).
I spoke at Fund Forum in Monaco two weeks ago, and having spent last week catching up, I was looking forward to writing a more detailed review of my presentation and the report on which it was based today. However, my plans were thwarted by an FT article that — at best — took some lines out of context and at worst, inaccurately reported parts of the report. How they got their hands on the report is also questionable since it wasn't circulated to the press and the FT didn’t buy it.
Our quarterly Platform Report was published a couple of weeks ago. It’s popular with platforms and fund managers as it allows them to benchmark themselves and monitor overall trends in the platform space.
Some platforms are reluctant to share their quarterly figures (sales and asset growth), so the report is confidential and circulation is restricted. We release headline industry figures to the press and throw in the top three platforms for assets, asset growth, gross and net sales. However, the large multi-proposition platforms can often obscure developments in certain areas of the industry. As a result, we also analyse platforms by their different propositions, which include fund platform, wrap, corp/DC, institutional, sub-advised and D2C. Some of the proposition breakdowns are estimated, but we try to get as much guidance on our estimates as possible from the platforms themselves and from their competitors.
It’s been very busy in the D2C platform world and competition is hotting up as the April deadline for unbundled platform pricing approaches. Hargreaves Lansdown was the first to announce its post-RDR charging structure and was followed by Fidelity, Barclays and a host of other discount brokers and direct platforms in the days and weeks that followed.
The rain has stopped, the sun is shining and it feels as though we’ve got through the worst of the weather. It’s half term so half of the industry is away and so it’s been a quietish week. We Fundscapers were bogged down in our various quarterly/year-end reports until Old Mutual gave us something to think about.
The group announced its new solution two weeks ago, but it was only today that it published the details of the WealthSelect fund range and the AMCs. There are 20 sub-advised funds from 10 fund managers. Being a bit of a nerd, I added up them up and worked out that the average was 58bps and not 52bps, so I can only assume that Old Mutual funds have also been included in the 52 bps calculation.
In theory, everyone’s a winner. Advisers get access to a balanced fund range at cheaper prices. Check. Fund managers get distribution in exchange for lower AMCs. Check. Old Mutual can use fund revenues to offset platform costs. Check.
For those of us forced to get round London in the awful weather and no tube network, what a nightmare week! On the financial services front, it was fairly quiet until Old Mutual Wealth announced its new fund range and portfolio management service yesterday afternoon and then the twitterati got busy. Old Mutual Wealth includes two separate businesses — the Skandia platform and Old Mutual Global Investors (OMG), the fund manager arm.
Prior to RDR, the platform was able to wrestle some pretty good rebates out of fund managers, but in the post-RDR world, securing the same kind of pricing from fund managers was likely to prove a challenge unless the platform could demonstrate that it had distribution influence. But even more important was securing distribution deals for its in-house fund manager, OMG. As a result, a combination of the Skandia platform plus a range of well-priced, sub-advised funds and solutions targeted at cost-conscious advisers became the strategy. The message is clear: we are a one-stop shop for restricted advisers.
January is usually an austere month. After the Christmas and New Year festivities, not only do we have far less money, but it’s also becoming the norm to give up alcohol for the entire month. Add to that our (mostly) unrealistic New Year resolutions to get fitter, get richer, and get better at a variety of things and January becomes a very tiresome month.
It's Friday, it's nearly Christmas and try as we might, it's difficult to sit in the office with Christmas just round the corner. So we're off for the afternoon. We're very unlikely to be back before the New Year , but we will be keeping an eye on our emails just in case you have a pressing need to communicate with us. Before we go, we'd just like to say Feliz Navidad:
It's that time of year and there are a multitude of Christmas dinners, drinks and crimbo catch-ups going on throughout the city that I like to call reinbeers (geddit?). So much so, that there's barely any time to do any work. We recently put to bed our Platform Report and our Distribution Report, and although we'd like to start winding down and enjoying the festivities, work has already started on our five-year projections that will be featured in our Q413 issue of the Platform report.
A number of platforms have already contacted us asking for our numbers and our views. The direction of travel is clear and has been since before RDR so we're always a little nonplussed by the number of 'stating the obvious' articles that end up in the press. In the last few weeks there have been lots of stories on the advice gap (yes it exists, and yes, if advisers orphan their clients they end up in the hands of St James's Place, which is, surprise surprise, growing rather rapidly); fund managers offering lower rates in exchange for for distribution influence (and not distribution facilitation) and of course Hargreaves testing the waters with various pricing options that eventually came to nothing.
It's November already and the pressure is on with our two quarterly publications, the Platform Report and the Distribution Report, due out in the next couple of weeks. Not that the work hasn't been ramping up already. Last week I was up in cold, but sunny Edinburgh for Matrix Solutions' annual Financial-Clarity conference, and yesterday the same seminar was held at the Shard in London, so prepping for both has taken some time. You can find a link to my presentation here.
We're in the midst of data collection for the Platform Report. There are always one or two late submissions but the half-term holiday has thrown us off course a little. We're hoping that we can recover lost ground and publish the report as expected on 6th November, but it's looking unlikely.