Funds Hub

Money managers under the microscope

Shocking.. Toxic.. Nasties.. Devastating.. Leeches..


.. Some select phrases from this morning’s Daily Mail pop at greedy fund managers who rake in fees whether or not they’re beating the market. It might read a bit like an advertiorial for passive managers like Vanguard (which gets an unusually high number of prominent name checks) but it won’t be comfortable reading for other asset management execs.

The paper’s salvo gives a kicking to firms like Axa and Henderson and makes much of the secretive pay packages earned by the fundies and the marketeers. It also, somewhat bizarrely reckons the grey-suited long-only managers looking after your ISA are responsible for most of the yachts bobbing gently in the Marina at Monte Carlo.

It has been a long-running war of words since the financial crisis and it’s fair to say that active managers who fail to deliver do look increasingly isolated. It has been an immensely difficult market to call and more than ever outperformers have a patina of luck around their achievements. People like ‘safe-hands’ Philip Gibbs have stumbled and Neil Woodford’s jammy sale of BP at the end of last year has been the engine behind a rally back from ho-hum performance.

For balance, the Mail does note that index funds will, by definition always tend to underperform the benchmark once fees are taken into account, but nevertheless, the passive houses have reaped the benefits and have even started to devise ways to hold onto the money which gravitated their way in the market’s darkest days.

Did Neil Woodford cause the BP oil slick?


Well, no. Of course he didn’t. And if pressed, he’d probably rather the southern seaboard of the United States wasn’t slowly turning into a necklace of slippery brown beaches.

But he is one of very few to benefit from the avalanche of political opprobrium, escalating costs and reputational damage that has engulfed BP in the last month, sending the shares 30 percent lower and leaving the pension pots of poor grans and grandads looking markedly less healthy.