Autif's decision to release details of its members' Isa funds under
management has come as a bit of a surprise – not least to some of the fund
Having gone to great lengths to conceal Isa sales due to their
“commercially sensitive” nature, several fund managers may be less than
happy that their rivals will now have relatively up-to-date data on how
they are faring.
M&G and Invesco both claimed to be unable to even provide an estimate of
their 2001 Isa season sales until after their company's results had been
published. Now, they face the choice of having their figures made public
once a month or taking a stand against the trade body.
The rankings themselves are already causing confusion. The surprise
first-placed Isa manager, Scottish Widows, is reported to have well over
£2bn in Isa funds. This breaks down into £524m through IFAs and
Widows' tied salesforce and another £1.64bn through the Lloyds TSB
This makes its bank Isa sales almost double those of Barclays while
putting the group as a whole more than £500m ahead of second-placed
Fidelity. It is clear that Widows has been quietly dominating the Isa sales
Scottish Widows senior manager of IFA marketing Ellen Crabtree says: “We
have 2,500 branches in the Lloyds TSB branch network. With that kind of
penetration, it is inevitable we will do well.”
Three other banks – Abbey National, Barclays and HSBC – also make it into
the top 10, leading one national newspaper to suggest that banks are
gaining ground on the pure fund managers.
Yet three investment houses – Fidelity, Jupiter and Invesco Perpetual –
account for well over 20 per cent of the entire Isa market.
Schroders director Robin Stoakley says: “If you look at the top 10, you
have got four pure fund managers in there. I do not think you can conclude
that banks are now taking more business. I think the pure fund management
industry is looking very healthy.”
Threadneedle communications director Richard Eats says: “We have all been
slightly surprised that the banks have never come to get us in the same way
they have in other European countries. But Barclays and HSBC have done
around the same amount of business as us, with thousands of branches to
Eats believes the figures illustrate the power of the IFA market in the
UK. He says: “The people who are wealthier have never gone to the banks and
have always gone to seek independent advice.”
With the exception of Widows, the figures do not carry many surprises.
However, a few household names have come out punching below their weight
while some of the smaller houses have produced surprisingly high sales.
Schroders, the second-biggest overall fund manager in the UK, comes in at
34th in the table. However, Stoakley is quick to point out that the figures
do not include investment trust Isas or fund supermarket sales, both of
which have accounted for a reasonable proportion of the firm's Isa sales
over the past year.
Other big names which have not done so well in the Isa market are
36th-placed Merrill Lynch Investment Managers and 43rd-placed Deutsche
The figures will be a bigger blow to MLIM which spent a considerable
amount – with little effect – on an Isa season ad campaign to promote its
Global Titans and UK Dynamic funds.
Of the smaller houses, ABN Amro in 23rd and Artemis in 40th place have
been the most successful, with £308m and £102m respectively in
Isa funds under management.
From the IFA and consumer point of view, Autif's decision to publish Isa
figures will be seen as a positive move in the direction of greater
transparency in the industry. However, there is a possibility that the move
will make providers more defensive and lead to the withdrawal of such data.
Fund data providers such as Morningstar, Standard & Poor's and Lipper say
they already all face varying degrees of co-operation from providers when
gathering fund performance statistics and portfolio information.
Nevertheless, Lipper product manager Nick Hamilton believes fund managers
are generally becoming more relaxed about releasing information. He says:
“There has been a shift from a position where fund groups were less willing
to provide information to a position where they are now more willing.
“But they are very sensitive about how it is distributed. They are willing
to provide it to us for our portfolio analysis service because they trust
Most disappointed by new Isa figures is Fidelity. Having thought it had
the UK market sewn up, it has been hit with the harsh reality that it is
some £0.5bn off the top spot and it has plenty of work left to do.