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CFA Institute to oversee fiduciary manager performance standard [updated]

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CFA Institute is taking over responsibility for the fiduciary management performance standard that could satisfy a pending UK regulatory requirement facing providers of the service.

The transfer of intellectual property rights from IC Select, which has developed the standard, was scheduled to complete at the end of June, Iain McAra, director of global investment performance standards (GIPS) at CFA Institute, told attendees at an industry event earlier this month.

This was slightly earlier than initially envisaged given the timetable set out by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) following its investigation into the investment consultancy and fiduciary management sectors.

“The CMA’s agenda really wants everything wrapped up by mid-November,” McAra told IPE. “We had proposed that we complete the transfer by 1 January 2020, but we can accommodate that change.”

One of the CMA’s proposed “remedies” for the fiduciary management sector was for providers to be required to report their performance track record to prospective customers using a standardised methodology.

CFA Institute’s discussions with IC Select predate the CMA’s investigation and the Financial Conduct Authority’s asset management review, which led to the investigation. Cardano’s Ralph Frank also contributed to the discussions, having been working on his own methodology for fiduciary management analytics. 

“We were always going to do this because IC Select is a UK-based entity and, for them, maintaining this and ensuring its continuation is a large chunk of work,” said McAra.

In addition, CFA Institute saw an opportunity to cover an area its framework for GIPS did not. The original standard IC Select developed was based on GIPS. 

The direction the CMA had taken meant it made more sense to pursue transferring the responsibility for the standard, said McAra.

CFA Institute would like to retain the governance structure IC Select had set up for developing the standard and consultations, involving a steering group and a forum, both of which McAra chairs.

Global reach?

At the industry event – organised by the Transparency Task Force (TTF), a campaign group – McAra said CFA Institute “would anticipate” the standard being of use elsewhere in the world, and that it had already held discussions with US and Dutch stakeholders.

The right language could make a single standard applicable globally even if regulatory requirements varied geographically, he said.

“We’re all about making things level, constant, and comparable, both through timeframes and across the firms operating in those particular areas,” he added. “So a prospective client can take information from any person, any firm that claims compliance with this standard, look at them and know they have comparable information.”

McAra told IPE he had spoken to fiduciary managers in the US and Netherlands who are aware of GIPS and the IC Select standard, and that the feedback was comparable to that received from UK fiduciary managers.

“For those managers that are investing against asset-based benchmarks, then GIPS can be used as a standard for presenting their past performance to prospective investors,” he said. “For those implementing liability-driven investment [LDI] strategies, the IC Select standard provides a framework for generating composites that are relevant to prospective investors considering LDI strategies.”

Carl Hitchman, head of fiduciary management advisory at Stamford Associates, also attended the TTF event, and later told IPE it was important there be some flexibility to avoid a situation where performance was quoted against an inappropriate benchmark.

He noted that the IC Select standard as currently drafted directed fiduciary managers towards the GIPS approach if their benchmark was “a fixed asset split”, but said this opt-out did not reflect – as he understood the CMA’s intention – the requirement for a single standard to apply to all fiduciary managers. 

This article was updated on 31 January 2019 to amend the name of CFA Institute.

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