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Asset managers 'must be transparent'

27/02/14

The UK is already one of the leading markets for talented asset managers, but they could become even more competitive by utilising increased levels of transparency within their business practices, an expert has claimed.

Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), argued that the biggest issues facing asset managers is how clients' funds are spent through dealing commission, with a growing consensus emerging that this cash is used in a fair and reasonable way.

Writing in City AM, he posited that this is emblematic of a wider shift in the world of financial services, which is keen to be as equitable as possible following the confidence-sapping crises of the last decade.

"Firms in all sectors recognise that they must put consumers at the heart of how they do business," argued Mr Wheatley.

He is hoping to strengthen the UK's edge when it comes to international counterparts by underlining the country's reputation for transparency and fairness, attracting further new business to the country's thriving financial market.

"Clients should expect asset managers to manage costs with the same enthusiasm they employ maximising returns on the assets they invest. And the industry can expect our focus to remain on conduct and integrity," declared the FCA chief.

Areas where companies can improve include research and execution costs, which are often bundled together, making it difficult to ascertain how efficiently companies are performing with regards to the former part of their operation.

Managers who can show they put their client first and ensure their cash is being spent in the right way will stand out in a crowded field and attract the most new business over the coming years, predicted Mr Wheatley.

His comments follow a new report from the Investment Management Association (IMA) examining the ways in which research models can be tweaked to offer more value for money.

The IMA will work with the FCA over the coming months to assess the effectiveness of alternative approaches.

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