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UK's Investment Association remains 'committed' to disputed code of conduct

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The UK asset management association has defended itself against accusations the departure of its chief executive would weaken its resolve to tackle fee transparency.

Helena Morrissey, chair at the Investment Association, argued that the industry body had “always been conscious” of its duty to look after client assets, and said recent events – a likely allusion to the departure of Daniel Godfrey earlier this week – should not put its commitment in doubt.

“Nothing has changed our collective commitment to putting customers first and, as part of that, to effective, transparent and competitive delivery to the millions of savers who depend upon the services we provide,” she said.

Godfrey’s departure from the £532,000 (€680,000) a year role came amid concerns within the industry about the body’s direction of travel, and reports that several of its members would be letting their membership lapse at the end of the year.

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Guy Sears, currently director of risk, compliance and legal, has been named the association’s interim chief executive.

IPE understands that some of the dissatisfaction stemmed from the 10 principles governing the conduct of the asset management industry, drafted during Godfrey’s tenure and published in August.

The principles called for greater clarity on management fees and asked asset managers to agree that client interests always came first.

Only 25 of the association’s 204 members, representing £1.8trn of its £5.5trn in assets, backed the principles when they were released.

Godfrey had previously spoken of the need to view an asset manager’s fiduciary responsibility as a “moral code, a way of behaving” at a time when there was debate around enshrining the fiduciary responsibilities of providers into law.

His departure earlier this week led responsible investment charity ShareAction to question whether industry concerns were being put ahead of the best interest of clients.

Morrissey added: “The board and the industry remain committed to the values captured in the Statement of Principles, but we are listening to members with regard to how it is implemented.

“There is no intention to make any changes to the ongoing executive pay project.”

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