I think I owe Daniel Godfrey an apology. I met him on a couple of occasions and he impressed upon me he was serious about transparency of cost and charges. I didn’t believe him- or at least I thought he was simply creating smokescreens so that – for his members- life was business as usual.
As State Street now advertise “there is opportunity in complexity” – transparency simplifies and makes it a lot harder to syphon money off.
But it appears that Daniel Godfrey, CEO of the Investment Association, wasn’t lying, he really was trying to improve the way that fund managers report their costs and this has cost him his job. The Financial Times report today that he has been “jettisoned”.
The FT, who are seldom wrong on these things report an insider saying
” Mr Godfrey just ploughed ahead with his own ideas”.
“He needed to consult more with his members and listen to what they wanted and what were their key concerns,”
If Mr Godfrey’s agenda was the agenda he spelt out to me, I think we should be making him a martyr.
So what is causing the Investment Association to “jettison” the boss? I can only speculate…
Is the FCA finally getting to the point of implementing the proposals put to them by Novarca in April and establishing a formal requirement to report on costs and charges?
Is it the reported repatriation of middle eastern sovereign wealth from UK funds (to shore up reserves).
Or is it the body blows from the Chancellor this week, which will set massive net out-flows from the cash-machine known as the Local Government Pension Scheme?
Whatever it was, it was enough to excite M&G and Schroders to announce they were leaving the Investment Association. Perhaps that won’t be necessary any more.
So what is the upshot of all this?
It may just be that the fund managers, who have had life all their own way – for a very long time – are a little rattled.
It may be that this year’s bonuses may not quite cover the expenses of those who sit on the IA committees and boards.
It may be that there are some very nasty skeletons that transparency might uncover.
I try not to speculate too hard on these things. It is not in my remit to influence fund managers or those who regulate them.
But if Daniel Godfrey is reading this – here is my apology. I underestimated you.
The transparency task force.
The tireless Andy Agethangelou has (with Dr Chris Sier) assembled a working group dedicated to improving transparency in fund management. It is meeting this week and I wish I could be more a part of it.
I hope that it will not be another initiative which is squashed by the Pythonesque foot of the fund management industry.
It seems impossible, that at a time when VW are being hauled over the coals, the whole Chinese economy is being marked down and the RDR is biting, that the Investment Association cannot see change in the air
Can the Investment Association heal itself?
The problem with the Investment Association is the problem with fund management, it simply cannot heal itself.
I was at the Conservative Party Conference yesterday afternoon, on our panel of four, two were fund managers , one worked for Deutsche Bank -(I was the fourth).
Harriett Baldwin MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury
Carlton Hood, Customer Director, Old Mutual Wealth
Jeremy Quin MP, Work and Pensions Select Committee
The interests of the fund management industry are so pervasive that it seems almost impossible to resist their lobby.
A change is going to come
But that appears what George Osborne is doing, and with Baldwin’s support and with the support of good people like Carlton Hood and Jeremy Quin.
The interests of the customer are being championed ahead of the financial needs of fund managers.
It’s been a long time coming, but change is gonna come.
Thanks Daniel Godfrey.