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Gina Miller accuses asset managers of ‘soft-lobbying’ on FCA study

SCM Direct founding partner Gina Miller has accused big asset management firms of “soft-lobbing” the FCA, as fund groups remain secretive on their responses to the regulator’s interim asset management study.

Miller has been a key campaigner on Brexit, bringing a successful legal challenge to the Government’s plans to trigger Article 50 without a vote by MPs.

The deadline for firms to submit responses to the regulator’s asset management report was 20 February. However, only a few firms including Old Mutual Global Investors, Orbis and Vanguard had publicly shared their views.

They urged the FCA to abandon its “all-in fee” proposal. Vanguard advocated development of “a radically simpler” fees template to replace existing disclosure documents.

Speaking to Money Marketing, Miller says: “For those who published their responses, which are very weak, they’ve actually not answered the questions, they’ve only given big picture comments that serve their own interest more than anything.

“Maybe a lot of the bigger asset managers didn’t want to be transparent because they are again being very conflicted and self-interested so maybe that’s a reason. It’s a form of soft lobbying, they are fighting their corner rather than answering the questions.”

Hargreaves under fire

In SCM Direct’s response to the FCA paper, seen by Money Marketing, the firm has attacked Hargreaves Lansdown for its “poor communication” in providing clear examples on product suitability to clients.

The firm says despite the presence of internal compliance departments, “practices within many of the largest firms are actually the poorest”.

The wealth manager points out at Hargreaves is “proactively marketing” its Portfolio Management Service, but is not offering specific information on charges and other details.

The response says: As an example of a large firm’ poor communication – Hargreaves recently widely marketed its Portfolio Management Service with a link to its website with no guide to likely charges, save an almost incomprehensible eight page Terms and Conditions document which contained no illustration of actual charges or even attempts to show the level of underlying fund charges for the service offered.

“The main page also shows a performance graph of an ‘example portfolio’ without any detail of what this ‘example portfolio’ might be, does not indicate the name of the specific sector used for comparison and fails to show any individual years’ performance. One has to assume that such an important service must have been ‘signed off’ by internal compliance within Hargreaves.”

SCM Direct’s portfolios on the firm’s website don’t show any specific benchmark.

Hargreaves Lansdown chartered financial planner Danny Cox says: “Hargreaves Lansdown offers excellent value services, acting at the centre of almost 900,000 people’s financial lives. Making the complex easy is at the heart of what we do and our people work with great intelligence and dedication to serve our clients in delivering this aim.”

Competition crunch time

Miller says the FCA is determined to move forward with their work on competition within the asset management industry, although she expects the final report to be pushed back to the Autumn, rather than the Summer when it’s currently due.

She says: “From what I can see the FCA are determined to make these changes but the industry […] and a lot of their responses have come back about how [the FCA proposals] would damage the industry and it is not true. This idea that you’ve got competition because you’ve got lots of providers doesn’t make sense. Competition is not [set by] the number of companies.

“The current political music has changed significantly as before the FCA was under the cosh of George Osborne and the Treasury, and now with May’s government their mood music about shared responsibility and their agenda is very different.

“So [the government] will back up the consumer protection and the FCA acting, so something significant has changed. Also, internally the culture at the FCA itself has changed and I do believe they will forge ahead on this path.”

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Comments

There are 11 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Gina

    I very much supported your much publicised campaign to get a vote on Brexit, but I’m afraid your posturing on charges is wearing very thin if not highly hypocritical in the light of your and your husband’s history.

  2. She doth protest too much!

    Who is she exactly? (I know who she is) but really who IS she exactly?

    Posturing attention seeker, with a professionally posed promo photo. Suddenly she ‘s the world expert on everything.

    I venture to say that she is exactly the type of person that is the archetypal “city slicker” very much held in low esteem by 95% of the population. Still, i’m sure that won’t bother her as she drives home in the Range Rover to the weekend retreat in Oxfordshire.

    You’ve had your 5 minutes of fame, now jog on!

  3. SCM is a DFM, letting others do the clever stock picking and then adding a massive “management” fee on top.
    They describe their fees as:

    (the sum of)

    0.48% per annum => scm annual management fee 0.4% + vat +
    0.20% per annum => Administration & Custody Fee +
    0.30% per annum => Typical underlying ETF charges +
    0.15% per annum => Typical trading costs =
    1.13% per annum => Total cost of investing

    And the problem is…the word typical. If it’s “typical” then it ain’t “total” cost.
    Careful with your self-promotion crusade – you’ll keep getting tripped up by your own material.

    Personally I can’t see why you’d use these guys when you can just buy the ETFs directly off HL’s platform.

  4. The irony of Gina Miller accusing others of Self Interest has made my week.

    The only thing she achieved with her Brexit campaign outside a huge boost to her already inflated ego was to waste a lot of Tax payers money, as her supposed victory has not saved her European income or changed what will happen.

  5. Hear hear Gina.

    Harry, what has Gina’s husband got to do with her own personal beliefs? They are a couple, not a political party.

    Why is her posturing on charges wearing thin Harry? Its only just started in the UK, and from lots of different angles. We have much further to go so you better get used to reading stuff like this, or read something else.

    • Alan Miller is actually the main protagonist of the firm that Gina spouts on about. It is his money that bankrolls the whole operation.

      In the words of Mrs. Merton: “Gina, what first attracted you to multi millionaire Alan Miller?”

      Or if you prefer – from the Editor of Money Week (Oct-2012):

      “Everyone I ask about the Millers says that they aren’t “quite sure” about what they’re up to. And you can sort of see why. Miller, you see, is the classic poacher turned gamekeeper”.

      Does that answer your question?

  6. I smiled at the article’s description of her legal action against the Government ‘successful’…. really? One of the smallest bills ever and strengthening and better empowering the Government’s arm not lessening it – wonderful for anyone who wants Brexit to progress (and who would have imagined that as the outcome of her action – perhaps she is a Remoaner fifth columnist!). It could then be described as a Pyrrhic victory – or knowing how to be wise enough to not fight certain battles if you are trying to win the war. She’s no heroine in my book and has made herself look very foolish and lacking in judgement.

  7. This story reminded me of a great quote from Apple’s Steve Jobs,.

    He said:

    ” Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

    Just a thought, love her or hate her.

  8. At least she stands for something – “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything” and judging by many advisers use of expensive active fund managers and DFMs there are quite a lot of folk falling for a story spun by the marketing teams of said managers.

    Have the critics above submitted their own feed back to the FCA Report? Have they even read it?

  9. Oh God it’s Gina Miller again. So tell us Gina, how is it working for and selling your soul to George Soros?

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