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Life on Mars as 150 funds get on board

Old Mutual&#39s multi-manager platform, codenamed Project Mars, will offer more than 150 funds from 24 providers at launch in a bid to rival Skandia.

The new platform, to be named on October 1, will include funds from Aberdeen, Artemis, Credit Suisse, Deutsche, Dresdner, Framlington, Friends Provident, Invesco Perpetual, Investec, Liontrust, Merrill Lynch, Newton, Old Mutual, Sarasin, Schroders and SG Asset Management.

It will also include a number of funds of funds from US-based provider SEI Investments following its launch into the UK retail market.

The service will be missing household names such as Fidelity, Jupiter, Gartmore, Henderson, Thread-needle and M&G.

The platform, scheduled for launch in November, will initially offer only Pep transfers, Isas, unit trusts and Oeics but it is set to expand to include life and pension products from next April.

The platform will offer IFA portfolio construction and fund selection tools, concentrating on client asset allocation. Old Mutual claims its closest competitor will be Skandia, although it is hoping also to win market share from FundsNetwork and Cofunds.

Project Mars marketing director Bill Vasilieff says: “If you have a look at the Myners report, it points out asset allocation is all important. It accounts for 95 per cent of portfolio volatility. By combining different asset classes together, you can lower risk for the same return. Our platform will bring institutional investment portfolio construction techniques to the retail market.”

Schroders director Robin Stoakley says: “Skandia is without a question the market leader and will take a lot to dethrone. We welcome competition and Old Mutual is a serious company.”

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