Phillips says: “Fine as far as managed funds go. I do wonder whether the expertise can be as focused in a fund with so many options, as it is in a more specific fund.”
Looking at the disadvantages of the fund, Mills says: “No outside fund links.”
Phillips points out: “No track record, may not appeal to people who may not wish to invest in certain countries. Poor product literature.”
Hosking also picks up on the lack of track record, while Daly feels that the fund is appealing to a specific sector of the market, and would not be seen as attractive by many investors.
There is mixed opinion when considering Axa's reputation.
Hosking says: “Middle of the road investment performance – no real star performing funds.” Phillips simply calls it fine.
Daly and Mills are more enthusiastic. Daly says: “Very good under the Sun Life banner – name awareness is ever increasing due to Axa's sponsorship of the FA cup and other high profile sporting events.”
Mills calls Axa's reputation: “First class in the insurance arena.”
Again, there is mixed feeling when looking at Axa's investment past performance record.
Mills calls it above average, Phillips says: “Have really only seen Axa as a with-profits company.”
Daly is less than complimentary: “Recently mediocre in everything except distribution and income fund areas.”
Hosking quantifies his opinion: “Reasonable performance on income and UK, mediocre performance in other fund areas.”
When asked to identify the funds that will provide the main competition, the panel pick up on different product providers.
Phillips says: “Merrill Lynch, Aberdeen, Gartmore, Baring and so on.”
Mills feels that the competition will come from any provider offering multi- fund links, but highlights Fidelity and Skandia.
Hosking says: “Exeter, Fidelity, Jupiter, MGM, Perpetual, Quilter – many investment houses with a good international track record.”
Daly feels that the competition for the fund will be limited.
Considering whether the charges for the fund are fair and reasonable, Mills says: “Yes, commensurate with those in the IFA market place.”
Phillips says that they appear to be okay, while Hosking feels they are: “A bit heavy on the annual management charge.”
Daly goes into more detail: “The initial charge of 3.5 per cent is reasonable considering there is a 3 per cent level of adviser commission. The 1.5 per cent annual charge is high, especially on high income funds, even though 0.5 per cent is payable to advisers. This is counter balanced by having free fund switching.”
The panel are in agreement on the subject of the commission payable on the fund. They all feel that it is fair and reasonable.
There is a difference of opinion when it comes to the panels' opinion of the product literature.
Mills calls it: “Very clear and basic to understand.” Hosking says: “Bright, basic, reasonably interesting.”
Daly says: “Good straightforward use of plain English. I thought the first part of the key features which summarised the different types of Isa were particularly good. The application form is bland but not confusing. Again, user friendliness seems to have been considered for both client and adviser.”
Phillips does not agree, and calls the literature awful.
Summing up, Phillips says: “I was a bit confused because of no mention of Sun Life – I thought they were working together. There was so little information in the literature that I feel a serious investor would look elsewhere.”
Hosking feels that there is nothing about the product that stands out. Mills echoes this sentiment, and says it has: “No wow factor.”