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F&C sales closure turns up the heat

The closure of F&C&#39s IFA salesforce will stoke fears that the retail fund industry is facing meltdown.

F&C&#39s drive to attract more IFA business began in earnest about four years ago with a small team of eight. In a bull market or even in a less savage bear one, the strategy might well have paid off. As it is, F&C will focus on direct sales of investment trusts and maintain some IFA relationships.

Perhaps F&C&#39s most interesting initiative was its with-prospects fund which was clearly intended to take a slice of the with-profits bond market. It represented one of the more interesting alternatives but it may demonstrate that replacing with-profits with any investment-linked product may take more patience and resources. Some of those with bonds were natural building society savers rather than owners of stocks and shares.

The real fight for market share between various players, whether traditional with-profits, Sandler&#39s new-style version and various fund-managed alternatives, will probably only become visible when stockmarkets improve. Times are very tough for investors and the companies that serve them.

The sheer scale of the drop in new business is becoming apparent and much of that pain will be felt among fund man-agers and investment IFAs in particular.

The F&C move is bad news and it will be followed by more bad news. But as the international situation hopefully stabilises, the outlook should become better. Those which have kept on promoting their brands will eventually see a return on that investment but probably not from the Isa season just passed. Those offering equity-based investments face a massive challenge in winning back customers. But it is a challenge that they will have to accept.


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The Sandler suite of products will fail to meet the needs of low to middle income consumers and runs a real risk of misselling as currently proposed the FSA&#39s Consumer Panel has warned.The Panel says face-to-face advice is crucial to encouraging saving and its absence from the proposed Sandler sales regime means it cannot support […]

Baring sets up Asian hedge fund

Baring Asset Management is offering an Asian fund of hedge funds which it expects will generate returns around 7 per cent above three-month US Treasury bills which are currently returning 1.14 per cent. The fund will invest primarily in equity long/short Asia Pacific hedge funds and aim for maximum 9 per cent volatility, as opposed […]

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Saving the day

The culture of spend, spend, spend seems to be here to stay.A recent report suggests the combined pension statement may have little effect in encouraging a culture of saving. Trials launched in autumn 2000 show more than 90 per cent of people have failed to act on the statements which, as expected, overwhelmingly show people […]


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