Skandia says IFAs don’t understand ETF structure
Demand for ETFs will remain “limited” post-Retail Distribution Review due to a general lack of understanding about the use of the vehicle, Skandia survey shows.
Most financial advisers admit they have little or no understanding of the structure of exchange traded funds, according to Skandia’s latest adviser poll.
Skandia’s data revealed more than two thirds of 840 advisers indicated they have little or no understanding of the structure of synthetic ETFs and more than half have little or no understanding of asset-based ETFs.
With the FSA having already expressed concerns about the complexity of ETFs and there being a lack of understanding of how they work by both advisers and customers, there is a real danger of these funds being used when they should not be, Skandia claimed.
The research showed more than 70 per cent of advisers do not have any clients holding ETFs, and of those who do, the overwhelming majority hold 5 per cent or less of this type of asset in their portfolio.
According to Skandia, this illustrates ETFs remain very much a niche passive investment solution suitable for a limited number of clients.
The survey showed when utilising passive investments in client portfolios, advisers strongly favoured the use of trackers over the likes of ETFs and structured products.
Not only are tracker funds the preferred passive investment choice for advisers and clients, Skandia’s analysis shows that tracker funds can also be more cost effective than ETFs.
A passive portfolio could be built for as little as 43bps on the Skandia platform.
This compares to a similar portfolio built using ETFs via a wrap which would typically cost around 75bps.
Graham Bentley, head of proposition of Skandia, said: “The structure of ETFs can be inherently complicated.
“It is therefore understandable that such a significant segment of advisers have little or no understanding of these funds and for the FSA to be concerned about their use in the retail space.
“With a general lack of understanding and increased scrutiny over the use of ETFs it is likely that demand for ETFs will remain limited even after the RDR and our research supports this.
“One of the benefits that have often been touted about ETFs is that they are a low cost passive solution.
“However, there are other ways for investors to access low cost passive investment solutions; a very effective way to do this is via tracker funds.
“These funds can not only be cheaper than ETFs but also are much simpler for both advisers and investors to understand making them a potentially much more appropriate passive solution for the retail space.”