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IPE special report May 2018

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Robeco to stop charging for external research costs under MIFID

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The €148bn Dutch asset manager Robeco has announced that it won’t charge its clients for the costs of external investment research as of 1 January 2018.

Up to now, these costs have been included in transaction costs, but under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MIFID II), these costs must be made transparent. MIFID II comes into force at the start of next year.

The asset manager argued that billing research costs separately would be impractical.

Recently, the €47bn manager Kempen Capital Management also indicated that it would absorb research costs in response to MIFID II.

According to Dutch financial daily newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad (FD), Peter Ferket, head of investments at Robeco, said charging customers through a research payment account (RPA) would require keeping track of which investment team used what research, while the different investment teams at Robeco would not be allowed to share the data.

“This goes against our investment philosophy, in which knowledge sharing is essential to achieving good investment results for our clients,” Ferket said.

He indicated to the FD that he expected that RPAs to be a temporary solution: “We think that most parties will bear the costs themselves ultimately, as you need to have a very good explanation to your clients.”

The daily quoted a spokesman of Actiam – the asset manager of insurer Vivat – as saying that the company was still considering all options. The same went for BNP Paribas Investment Partners.

UK-based managers Jupiter, Woodford Asset Management, and M&G have all decided not to pass the costs of research on to clients.

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