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Legal & General goes for world of medicine

Looking at the other side of the coin, Bulgin says: "The drawbacks include the fact that with some of the larger companies in the index may be mature and so may underperform when compared with the smaller specialist businesses. Also, many of the companies are enormous, such as Glaxo Smithkline, and as a result a few shares from them might skew performance."

Lakey says: "There is the possibility of potential losses from currency fluctuations, especially as this product does not appear to be hedged."

Cocken says: "There will be fluctuations in investment returns in line with the sector. It is difficult to compare returns because other similar investments in this sector are generally part of a wider range of stocks worldwide in order to spread risk."

Jones says: "This product is heavily weighted towards large American companies and as a result is potentially very volatile. It has no defense in a bear market."

Examining the investment strategy Lakey thinks that: "The index that the fund tracks appears to be a subjective invention, making the product’s passivity questionable."

Bulgin says: "The strategy is laid down by Legal & General and simply invests in the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies with weightings given geographically and with the USA having the lion’s share."

Cocken says: "The strategy of investing in companies in segments of the FTSE all-world index with weightings in line with market capitalisation is good, but I would have expected some investment in Germany to be included if that was adhered to."

Moving on to assessing Legal & General’s reputation, Bulgin feels that the company has an excellent reputation for running tracker products, while Lakey says: "Legal & General has an excellent reputation for running passive low cost funds, but has only an average reputation for running actively managed funds."

Cocken adds: "Legal & General took a lot of Pep business a couple of years ago, particularly in the European index-tracking fund, but it has lost out more recently to many actively managed funds with superior returns in this sector. The company is better known for its tracker funds, but its investment reputation is no better than average really."

Turning to Legal & General’s investment past performance record, the panel are not that impressed. Bulgin feels that he cannot comment, saying: "In this case past performance is not relevant, because this purely a tracker product and there is no active management involved."

However Lakey says: "Legal & General’s past performance record is like a schoolboys report – could do better, please apply yourself this year."

Cocken says: "Only a few Legal & General funds across its range are worthy of any note. Most investments are second or even third quartile. Again, its past performance reputation is little more than average." Jones however disagrees. He says: "Its past performance reputation is generally above average."

Moving on to the Isas which provide the main competition, Bulgin says: "Rival Isas will include some of the managed healthcare products, such as Framlington health." Lakey also singles out Framlington health and NPI globalcare, but Cocken feels that there is no competition.

Turning to the question of whether the charges are fair and reasonable, Lakey says: "Yes they are – there is no front end charge and the one per cent annual management charge is acceptable for a global fund."

Cocken says: "With no initial charge and only one per cent a year for the annual management charge, the charges seem more than fair to me."


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