FCA rewrites fund supermarket rules

LONDON Fri Apr 26, 2013 3:44pm BST

The logo of the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is seen at the agency's headquarters in the Canary Wharf business district of London April 1, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

The logo of the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is seen at the agency's headquarters in the Canary Wharf business district of London April 1, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Chris Helgren

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LONDON (Reuters) - The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is rewriting the rules on how fund supermarkets operate to make it easier for investors to compare the costs of buying savings products from them.

Investment managers typically pay fund supermarkets for the right to list their products on a platform, usually a website.

These payments, known as rebates, generally come from the annual management charge the investor pays the manager.

But the FCA says the system gives the inaccurate impression to investors that the service is free.

It could also promote product bias, with larger fund managers able to pay higher rebates and gain greater prominence on platforms than smaller peers or those unwilling to pay, the FCA argues.

From April 6 2014, new customers who access products via a platform will pay an upfront fee directly to the fund supermarket, breaking the links between fund managers and the companies that showcase their products.

The new rules will bring regulations governing the fast-growing investment platforms business in line with a January ruling that banned fund managers from paying commission to financial advisers who sell their funds.

"These changes will allow both investors and advisers to compare the costs of investing through different platforms and make an informed decision on whether using a platform represents good value for money," Christopher Woolard, director of policy, risk and research at the FCA said.

Investment manager Hargreaves Lansdown which styles itself as a fund management supermarket said it has already put in place most of the measures needed to comply with the new rules.

The FCA's decision to ban payments to fund supermarkets from investment managers drew criticism from business advisory firm Deloitte, which said the shake-up will increase complexity for fund managers and could lead to less, not more choice for investors.

"It will hasten consolidation in the platform market as some platforms utilise their scale and capabilities to negotiate better terms from fund managers," Andrew Power, lead RDR partner at Deloitte said.

(Reporting by Sinead Cruise and Chris Vellacott; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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