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Leader – Build trust to stop bubble bursting the Isa business

The investment industry may wish to spend the Easter break licking its wounds following this year&#39s Isa season.

Business has almost certainly dropped for most fund groups, in particular for those which previously rode the technology stock boom.

No one would deny the industry a little rest and relaxation but it may be wise to spend a few moments in the next few days marshalling arguments for when managers and advisers are asked what went wrong.

Some managers must be questioning whether jumping on the tech bandwagon with me-too funds was the best way to promote themselves. They may be facing not just short-term damage to balance sheets but longer-term brand damage.

But perhaps the most pressing issue is why such large numbers of investors found themselves investing in funds not just at the top of the cycle but at the top of a bubble. Some intermediaries must ask themselves whether they could have urged more caution.

It also casts further doubt on Isa guides and moves to rebate commission.Both developments would seem to be encouraging less advice.

It may also weaken the industry&#39s arguments against the use of simplistic cost-based league tables by the FSA. It will be difficult to argue the industry has informed investors adequately.

In advisers&#39 defence, it is not easy to deflect a determined investor away from the flavour of the month. But it can be done if a trusting adviser-client relationship has been built up. The fear is that the trend is in the opposite direction.

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