Stevens says: “They offer a managed volatility approach which may be just as well at this time. I hope this does not restrict performance too much.”
Hooper says that the strategy seems to have been well thought out and researched.
Moving on to the disadvantages of the fund, Darlington says: “This is a new fund in a very competitive sector.”
Stevens feels that any disadvantages will be counterbalanced by the Schroders risk control parameters.
Hooper cannot find any particular disadvantages, and Coates says: “None really, except perhaps the timing. Only with hindsight will we ever know if it was launched at a good time, it certainly feels wrong at the moment.”
Considering Schroders' reputation, Stevens says: “Quite good, but name awareness not too high with the general public yet.”
Coates calls their reputation very good. He also feels that reliability is the main word with Schroders.
Hooper says: “It has gone through a patchy period, but it seems to have revived its fortunes and has taken a more positive outlook.”
Darlington calls Schroders an established investment management company that has become one of the largest unit trust groups in the UK. She also says that it has been left with a lot of work to do to improve its profile as its value approach proved less than successful as growth stocks came into favour and outperformed.
On the subject of Schroders' past performance record, the panel has a difference of opinion. Stevens says: “Dismal, as far as the American sector is concerned. Over a ten year period, the Schroder American fund is are 59th out of 63 funds. However, Ian Cooke performed well when with Legal & General. He managed a fund with a similar volatility factor as the Schroders fund but produced far better results.”
Hooper says the past performance was not too good, while Darlington says: “It is strong in the small cap market. Over the last 18 months they have improved the overall position of its UK income fund and income and growth investment trust. It has raised the profile of its European fund and are also consistent in Japan. Schroders has also had success in the US with the Schroders' US smaller companies fund. This has maintained good performance over the last year and has shown it can outperform regardless of market conditions.”
Coates says that overall the past performance is very good, but that all groups have good and bad funds.
When asked which funds provide the main competition, the panel list Threadneedle, Fidelity, Deutsche, Dresdner, and Soc Gen.
Looking at whether the fund charges are fair and reasonable, Stevens calls them about average, while Hooper says: “They are compatible with the industry.”
Darlington thinks that the charges seem reasonable for an actively managed fund. Coates says: “The Isa charge is very good for an actively managed overseas fund, and the annual management charge is average. I don't like the unit trust charge though. To me, Schroders is giving a very clear message that it only wants Isa business and does not want unit trust business. Who would be daft enough to recommend the unit trust when the Isa is cheaper, and another company's unit trust can be recommended with a lower charge?”
Considering whether the commission is fair and reasonable, Hooper says it is normal, and Darlington says it seems reasonable. Stevens says: “Yes, more or less standard.”
Casting an eye over the product literature, Hooper calls it well presented and informative. Darlington says that it contains a reasonable amount of detail, even if it is a little dull.
Coates says: “Quite uninspiring really. The US market is highly dynamic yet the brochure is quite dull. There is a difference between quiet sophistication and being boring – this is boring.” Stevens finds the literature not exciting but business like.