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Credit Suisse gets adventurous

Gilbey says: "As a fee-based adviser products take a passive role in marketing and are used to meet a need or fill a gap. This product is a packaging of two existing funds and apparently little else. Individually the funds provide the opportunity for diversification and to gear-up the potential returns on a larger investment portfolio. The packaging would probably make it less attractive for most fee-based advisers. For commission-based advisers the packaging may have been attractive for a one off sale had the market headed up rather than down but I suspect this ISA was originated as a standalone, direct to public offering trading on the back of the Credit Suisse flagship Transatlantic fund."

Examining the strong points of the Isa, Crowe says: "I like the fact that the product has no geographical constraints, no company size constraints and has a well established management team."

Gilbey says: "The strong point is primarily the Credit Suisse name and the credibility of their flagship Transatlantic fund. For the lazy or time challenged investor the standard or default product at least offers a high degree of sector and market diversification within a single ISA, albeit with potentially higher volatility than the Transatlantic fund alone."

Cowell says: "Frankly the Isa wrapper is no different from any other management group. The benefit of an Isa is the tax shelter element. Linking it to a particular fund or funds is purely a marketing exercise."

Turning to the drawbacks of the Isa, Chapman says: "With both funds being either American or largely American by investment, this may be a drawback with investors due to the recent slowdown in the US economy."

Gilbey says: "The main disadvantage is its tired marketing formula that does little credit to the industry or Credit Suisse. This is little more than marketing hype and does little to position the two underlying funds within the framework of professional portfolio design and management. It would be nice and refreshing to see each fund neatly positioned in the context of a portfolio and the amount of risk and reward clearly explained rather than packaged marketing blurb."

Crowe on the other hand is more positive. He says: "The initial charge of 5.25 per cent is quite high – otherwise there are no disadvantages that I can see."

Viewing the investment strategy the panel is positive. Crowe regards it as being very attractive. Chapman says: "I am very impressed by both funds and I have been an investor in the transatlantic fund for some time. Although the fund manager has changed over recently, this does not seem to have affected performance. The post venture capital fund is a new asset class, but with the depth of resources that Credit Suisse are able to apply to this fund, I am sure that it will be a success."

Gilbey adds: "The investment strategy appears sound for a standalone offering. As a product to include within a managed portfolio it appears to offer no significant advantage over the existing Credit Suisse products. The marketing of the ISA as a blend of two funds with the benefits of diversification has a small educational value to investors, and thinking positive, every little helps."

Cowell is more lukewarm. He says: "The transatlantic fund has a good record but this was achieved under the previous manager, James Abate. We have yet to see whether Susan Everly can emulate him. Beth Dater is a very experienced manager. The investment options are broadly to switch to other Credit Suisse funds or to transfer to another provider."

Casting an eye over the reputation of Credit Suisse, the panel is positive. Chapman says: "The company has a high reputation within the investment community that has been built on a strong UK performance."


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