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Dual track solution for Royal Skandia

Jackson says: "The UK equity market has always performed well over the long term. The product is also equally balanced between active and passive management and these two should complement each other very well. Royal Skandia has a very good track record. A few other points are that fund managers can be changed if they underperform and that the funds can be invested into US dollars, Hong Kong dollars and sterling."

Turning to the product’s disadvantages, Flowers says: "The only drawback is that the application of the principle of the multi-manager philosophy is compromised in this case by the administrative process as well as the cost of switching the fund from one manager to the other."

Jackson says: "It is possible that underperformance from one of the fund managers will lower the performance of the fund. Also, tracker funds have fared well in the past but they have not been tested over a long and continuous downfall in market values."

Cuthbert adds: "I cannot see any disadvantages in particular, unless clients are resistant to offshore investments."

Looking at the flexibility offered by the product, the panel again differ. Cuthbert says: "There is nothing particularly flexible about this fund, but presumably the ability to switch to other funds would be good for clients."

However Jackson says: "I personally like the flexibility offered. There are no charges for switching under Royal Skandia funds, so if the fund does not perform well, the money may be moved to another fund or fund manager under the Royal Skandia banner."

Moving on to the reputation of Royal Skandia the panel are positive. Cuthbert thinks that it has a good reputation, while Flowers says: "Royal Skandia has a good reputation for providing multi-manager fund links."

Jackson says: "Royal Skandia has an excellent reputation, and has many top performing funds under its banner. At the OFFEX awards in 1999 Royal Skandia took six first place awards."

Turning to Royal Skandia’s past performance record, the panel are again positive.

Jackson says: "It’s past performance has been excellent, due to the flexibility of the company," while Cuthbert says: "It really depends on the particular funds you look at, but Royal Skandia does have a lot of excellent funds available to it."

Flowers says: "The multi-manager philosophy is beginning to show some very good results. This fund will at the outset be linked to Mercury and Gartmore, who have satisfied the process, people, philosophy and past performance criteria that Royal Skandia uses. Of course they can be changed to other managers at Royal Skandia’s discretion."

Evaluating the products that will provide competition to the Royal Skandia product, Jackson says: "Competition could come form the Norwich Union UK equity fund. ABN Amro also has a good UK equity fund, while the Barclays UK equity fund has performed well this year. The Clerical Medical UK equity fund is always consistent."

Flowers says: "Some competition could come from collective investment bonds that allow access to other multi-manager funds."

Cuthbert says: "I cannot see any real competition for this fund. This is because the main reason for recommending this fund with Royal Skandia would be for all the others that are available if required. No other company has such a comprehensive range."

Commenting on the charges Flowers and Jackson agree that these are fair and reasonable. However Cuthbert adds: "I think that these are slightly on the high side, but this will probably be balanced out by superior fund performance."

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