FCA: most fund managers failing value test

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said on Tuesday that a review of 18 fund managers between  July 2020  and  May 2021, covering different business models and sizes, found most “had not implemented Assessments of Value (AoVs) arrangements” that met FCA standards.

The FCA said that while some Authorised Fund Managers (AFMs) had been conducting AoV assessments well, too many AFMs often made assumptions that they could not justify, undermining the credibility of their assessments.

It said fund managers spent a disproportionate amount of time looking for savings in administration service charges that cost investors relatively little compared with the time spent reviewing the costs of asset management and distribution that typically cost investors much more.

“We require Authorised Fund Managers (AFMs) to carry out an AoV at least annually,” said the FCA.

“This requirement was put in place after the Asset Management Market Study found evidence of weak demand-side pressure in the market for authorised funds, resulting in a lack of competition among fund providers on fees and charges.

“The rules addressed this by requiring firms to assess whether fund fees are justified by the value provided to fund investors, by using a set of minimum considerations.

“Details of these assessments must be reported to investors together with a clear explanation of what action has been or will be taken if they find that the charges paid by investors in the funds are not justified.

“Our review found that, while some had been conducting AoV assessments well, too many AFMs often made assumptions that they could not justify to us, undermining the credibility of their assessments.

“When considering a fund’s performance, many firms did not consider what the fund should deliver given its investment policy, investment strategy and fees.

“Firms spent a disproportionate amount of time looking for savings in administration service charges that cost investors relatively little compared with the time spent reviewing the costs of asset management and distribution that typically cost investors much more.

“Other firms did not meet the standards we expect  by using  poorly designed processes that led to incomplete  assessments of value …

“Some of the independent directors on the governing bodies (or boards) of AFMs did not provide the robust challenge we expect and appeared to lack sufficient understanding of relevant fund rules.

“Overall, we expect more rigour from AFMs when assessing  value in funds.  This will help ensure that investment products represent  good  value.

“We expect all AFMs to consider these findings and use them to assess their AoV processes.

“Where necessary, they should make changes to address shortcomings.

“We intend to review firms again within the next 12 to 18 months and we will assess how well firms have reacted to our feedback.

“We will consider other regulatory tools should we find firms are not meeting the standards we expect to be necessary to comply with our rules.”

About the Author

Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.