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I have a theme

For years, we have had a plethora of me-too funds with little thinking outside the box. The search for something different has been a poor hunting ground. Yes, we have had the gold & general funds. Global privatisation and global basics were novelties. True, dotcom was a disaster but was merely an example of lemming-like me-too-ism.

For about 10 years, I have been harping on about having a vice fund but no manager wanted to take it on. Now it is probably too late. (The one in the US has done very well) A good property fund used to be in very short supply, then they all climbed on the bandwagon.

The problem is that someone has an original thought and then instead of working out their own good idea, others just copy.

Schroders has decided to come out of the box with some new ideas – global climate change is a case in point. Agriculture funds hardly existed 18 months ago and there are still too few. Allianz has spotted water.

These launches should be applauded, not criticised. It is hard enough trying to make money for clients without being restricted to UK equity income funds. Asset spread and non-correlation are still worth pursuing, aren’t they?

It is a different matter when we have launches that are just cynical marketing ploys rather than a real attempt at diversification. Recent launches of African and Middle Eastern funds spring to mind. Why not just launch a lunatic asylum fund? (Better to invest in the pill pusher than the sufferer?)

In today’s markets, themes have more appeal in my view than locations – something Sarasin worked out years ago.

I am grateful to Schroders and others such as Macquarie, Eclectica and Skandia for having the guts to try something new and hopefully worthwhile but it is dissent that makes a market.

Harry Katz
Norwest Consultants, Stanmore, Middx

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