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Top actuary in attack on commission

A 13-year old schoolboy has outperformed the UK&#39s top fund manager in a competition run by stock and shares website ADVFN.

Roy Nelson made a £108.81 on his £1,000 portfolio. The best-performing UK fund, the Axa ethical fund run by Stuart Fowler, returned 1.12 per cent between June 14 and July 2.

Steel giant Corus Group and gas exploration company Cairn Energy were two of Nelson&#39s successful stock picks.

Nelson, from Westbrook Hay School in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, was one of over 100 students from six schools who took part in this year&#39s ADVFN Schools Challenge. Each pupil had a notional £1,000 to invest in five UK-listed shares.

ADVFN chief executive officer Clem Chambers says the students learnt some valuable lessons about investing in the stockmarket, including how quickly they can make and lose money and that glamorous stocks such as BMW, Rolls Royce and football clubs are not necessarily the best performers.

The outgoing president of the Institute of Actuaries has attacked the commission structure and called for change.

In his valedictory address last week, Jeremy Goford identified a number of flawed structures in the UK financial services industry and commission was top of his list for change.

He suggested that real competition in financial services is to get intermediaries to sell a product, which increases commission to the ultimate detriment of the consumer.

Goford also criticised commission for being mismatched in timing with regular charging structures, causing annual management charges for regular savers to be too small at the outset of the contract and too big at the end.

He pointed to the fact that no commission is paid to help consumers use disposable income to pay off short-term debt on credit cards and personal loans, which leads to Citizens Advice Bureaux spending more than half their time trying to deal with the consequences of excessive personal borrowing.

Goford also believes there is confusion between financial products which carry guarantees and those where benefits are discretionary, which he says has been especially devastating in the pension area.

He believes employers must start communicating adequately to employees about what they can expect in the way of pensions, what is guaranteed and what is not and what will happen if the company fails or the stockmarket takes a sharp downturn.

He said: “The role of the actuarial profession is to speak out when we spot these flawed structures. Our responsibility is to research, inform and speak out so that those with the power to make changes understand the implications of those flawed structures and may mitigate or eliminate them if they so choose.”


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