Ex-OBSR chiefs reveal plan for rival research service

Former OBSR directors Peter Toogood and Gill Hutchison are launching a fund research and rating service at City Financial next spring, Investment Adviser can reveal.

The duo will launch Adviser Centre, a free web-based service for advisers that will recommend funds and provide information aimed at helping with the “challenge of covering the whole of the market”.

Adviser Centre will be pitted against several new propositions that research and rate funds and offer advisers assistance in picking investments.

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These include FundCalibre, to be launched by Chelsea Financial Services and Albermarle Street Partners, and Square Mile Research and Consulting, which is being launched by OBSR founders Richard Romer-Lee and Nigel Whittingham.

Mr Toogood, who joined City Financial last month with Ms Hutchison, said the service’s main focus would be on the type of vehicles advisers predominantly invested in on behalf of their clients. “This will tend to focus upon open-ended active funds, but we will also give guidance rather than ratings on passive funds and exchange traded funds,” he said.

The service will also rate roughly 100 actively managed funds and include a ‘Positive Watch’ list, which will have commentary on “younger investment talent and product innovations”.

“The Positive Watch list will be dynamic in nature and include managers who the firm believes have the capability and potential to be successful, as well as more experienced managers who may have recently changed firm, mandate or product,” Mr Toogood said.

Ms Hutchison added that many rating agencies could not give established managers who move companies a rating for “some time” and that Adviser Centre would “have a view and start to comment on these things earlier than we could do in a formal arena”.

Ms Hutchison said the service would also look at funds that had long track records in other jurisdictions, such as the US, and provide commentary on those, potentially enabling advisers to invest in the funds before they have a track record in the UK.

“We are not attempting to build a Morningstar or Standard & Poor’s-type library of fund research, but rather a list that can be applied by those at the coal face,” Mr Toogood said.

He added that output from the service would be a one-page report per fund covering investment methodology and process, with views on using individual funds in investment portfolios.

Mr Toogood said the fact he and Ms Hutchison worked alongside Mark Harris, City Financial’s multi-manager, meant the service would better reflect how advisers work.

“As multi-asset investors ourselves, we are definitely aligned with advisers’ interests,” he said.