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Managers urge agencies to clarify fund definitions

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EUROPE- Eleven of Europe’s largest investment managers have clubbed together and are pressurising three major ratings agencies, Standard & Poor’s, Morningstar and Lipper, to introduce more consistency to the way they categorise funds.

In a formal letter to the agencies, Robert Higginbotham, Schroders’ retail marketing director and organiser of the group says they feel that “ensuring products are clearly positioned for intermediaries and customers alike is important to ensure that they have the best possible chance of being clear on what they are buying and that they can reliably compare like with like.”

Eleven signatories, which include Credit Suisse, Fidelity, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, ING Investment Management, Invesco, JP Morgan Fleming AM, M&G, Merrill Lynch, Schroders and Threadneedle, are calling for greater clarity on the way funds are defined.

The letter goes on to say: “we would like to see a formal review process of sector definitions and track record information, as published on 3rd party performance measurement systems, with representation and input from the leading international asset management businesses.”

A spokeswoman for S&P welcomed the initiative saying: “it’s becoming far more important as they are marketing their funds in a number of different European countries that they are consistently compared to their peer group, not only for their own purposes but so that investors can compare like with like.”

Europe lacks an equivalent of the UK’s Investment Management Association Performance Category Review Committee, which categorises funds and is being touted as a potential model for any European approach.

The initiative by the eleven managers follows fruitless discussions between themselves and some of the leading data providers. “As a group we feel that we have not seen as much progress as we need to see. We have independently arrived at the view that we need to form a unified group in order to be able to keep you informed and address, with you, any issues that arise,” says the letter.

The two parties have agreed to meet on the September 27th.

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