'Investment calculator' offers UK investors transparency on fees

LONDON Wed May 22, 2013 1:01pm BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - A new tool launched on Wednesday promises British investors a way to cut through what its authors call the "smoke and mirrors" used by investment firms to charge hidden fees and get a more realistic valuation of their investments.

The True and Fair Calculator works out the cost of investments in pounds and as a percentage, giving an estimate of returns after all costs and fees.

It is based on data streams from investment research firm Morningstar and was devised by True and Fair, a campaign to boost transparency in the industry spearheaded by Alan and Gina Miller, founders of wealth management boutique SCM Private.

It builds on a similar tool created by the United States' Securities and Exchange Commission in 2005, which was used by more than a million consumers in its first three years.

The investment industry has come under mounting scrutiny in recent months as the public and regulatory backlash since the 2008 financial crisis spreads beyond the banking industry.

Britain's financial watchdog has already called for an end to hidden fees levied by asset managers.

"We hope this drives new levels of cost transparency which results in greater competition among product providers, gives information to aid better decision making by consumers and their advisers and provides a foundation for more realistic investment expectations," said Gina Miller.

Profits raised by the Calculator will be donated to charities for financial education and care for the elderly, True and Fair said.

(For more detail on the investment calculator please click: www.trueandfaircalculator.com)

(Reporting by Clare Hutchison; editing by Patrick Graham)

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