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Sales of the century as confidence comes back

The coming year looks like being the strongest for inv- estment sales so far this century, with fund managers set to benefit from rising investor confidence and an unexpected injection of Sipp money.

Last year saw double-digit global equity performance rebuild investor confidence and fund launches are being lined up for 2006.

The first major launch of 2006 will be F&C’s UK high- alpha product, to be run by former DWS manager Phil Doel. Sales of the fund could provide a barometer of investment business.

The Chancellor’s U-turn in Sipps could see more money moving into investment products and a return to more sensible asset-allocation strategies.

Investors who might have been tempted to put a 200,000 house into their pension are now more likely to spread the money across a range of asset classes.

Commercial property funds and eventually real estate investment trusts will provide advisers with an easily explained alternative for many disappointed Sipp clients, although the asset class in general is not expected to deliver the 10 to 15 per cent returns of recent years. Multi-manager funds are also likely to benefit, as well as a range of absolute-return equity and bond products.

The Government’s decision to allow non-Ucits products to be held in Isas is also set to boost sales.

The Chancellor’s failure to mention a review of tax breaks for venture capital trusts in his pre-Budget statement in early December means that brokers are expecting a last-minute rally as investors rush for what might be the last of the 40 per cent tax breaks. It is expected that the Chancellor will reduce the tax breaks in two steps, to 30 or 20 per cent this April, and again the following year.

It is also certain that the year will bring further consolidation in the fund management business.

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