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Asset management roundup: French regulator examines fund fees

Fewer than 2% of investment funds distributed in France charge “substantially high fees”, according to AMF, the country’s financial markets regulator.

A review it carried out found that, out of just over 8,000 funds, 148 charged substantially higher charges than their competitors. This represented 0.33% of assets under management.

The majority of these funds (70%) had less than €20m in assets, which probably meant they could not benefit from economies of scale, said the AMF. Also, most of them charged additional fees when their fund manager bought or sold portfolio securities, which increased the level of ongoing charges disclosed in the funds’ key investor information documents (KIIDs).

“The AMF nevertheless observed that some of these UCITS have since merged or been liquidated, which could be the result of competition from other UCITS that charge lower fees,” it said.

The regulator’s study also found that, in general, foreign funds charged slightly higher fees on average than French funds for equivalent asset classes.

The findings emerged from an analysis of funds’ key investor information documents for the financial year 2015 and the ongoing charges disclosed by 8,038 UCITS funds distributed in France.

Value for money’ reporting tool

Fund research company Fitz Partners has launched a service intended to allow fund fee committees and fund directors to evaluate share classes on fees, asset size and performance.

In a statement, the company said it launched the fund board reporting service “in response to greater demand for better fund governance and investment managers’ requirements for ’value for money’ reviews”.

It said requests for independent reviews came from asset managers and also from fund buyers and regulators. 

In Europe fund boards are not obliged to assess value for money, although in the UK the Financial Conduct Authority last year proposed requiring asset managers to assess whether funds offer value for money. 

PTL, a UK independent trustee firm, has also launched a ‘value for money’ assessment service for defined contribution investment funds, with Schroders announced as the first asset manager to sign up.

Aberdeen Standard in private markets offering

Aberdeen Standard Investments has launched what it said was its first comprehensive private markets fund.

It has been launched with £138m (€155.8m) of assets, and will invest in a diversified global mix of private equity, infrastructure, real estate and private credit, the asset manager said in a statement.

Carillion questioning  

UK politicians have written to investors including BlackRock and Standard Life Aberdeen as part of an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the collapse of UK construction firm Carillion.

In their letters, dated 26 January, the chairs of the two parliamentary committees behind the inquiry said they wanted to examine whether major institutional investors complied with the Stewardship Code. 

They asked the investors to set out what engagement they had with Carillion following the publication of its annual report and accounts for 2016 and the interim financial results for 2017. The institutions were also asked to set out what steps they took to influence the financial decisions of the board, the response they received, and their reasons for deciding to sell shares in the company when they did.

The politicians asked for responses by 2 February. BlackRock has been given an extension, a spokeswoman for the asset manager told IPE.

Goldman Sachs-Amundi fund tie-up

Goldman Sachs Fund Solutions is partnering with Amundi to use its asset management operational platform, Amundi Services, for its Luxembourg-domiciled funds.

Amundi Services will provide investment management and ongoing control and oversight services to Goldman Sachs Fund Solutions, which runs systematic investment strategies. Amundi will also provide management, due diligence and monitoring services to Goldman Sachs’ UCITS platform dedicated to external alternative fund managers.

Goldman Sachs Fund Solutions said it aimed to significantly increase its assets over the coming years, primarily through institutional investors and financial intermediaries.

Amundi Services has more than 23 third party asset managers and asset owners as clients, according to Guillaume Lesage, head of the operations, services and technology division of Amundi.

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