IMA chair-elect Helena Morrissey has expressed a desire to rid the fund management trade body of “self-interested lobbying” and to improve the industry’s standing among investors.
Ms Morrissey, the chief executive of Newton Investment Management, will take up her role as chairman of the IMA at the end of June when the body completes its merger with the investment affairs division of the Association of British Insurers and rebrands as The Investment Association in 2015.
She said she believed there was “strong appetite” within the industry to make sure it pursued greater transparency, clear objectives and sought to provide a service rather than just sell funds.
Ms Morrissey added many groups were already doing this but the industry had an “opportunity to do more and to communicate better”.
“Speaking with a clearer voice will be a lot easier now that there is one industry body,” she said.
“I’m definitely not into self-interested lobbying, rather I prefer positive dialogue, so everyone starts with a good understanding and we work through the issues that will inevitably arise with a constructive approach.”
Criticism has previously been levelled at the trade body for looking after its own interests rather than those of end investors.
In 2012, Conservative MP and Treasury Select Committee member Mark Garnier called on the IMA, then run by Richard Saunders, to reverse its stance against full fund transparency.
The IMA has since made progress with this and new chief executive Daniel Godfrey has made moves to try and implement a way of creating a single figure cost system for investing in funds.
Ms Morrissey said she had “clear objectives” in mind for her time as chair, including making sure the investment industry is “client-focused, appropriately regulated and serves a useful social purpose that is well understood”.
“To achieve those goals, we’re going to have to be clearer about explaining what it is we do, become more involved in financial education and help drive more savings – not for any self-serving purpose but to help improve people’s financial health,” Ms Morrissey said.
“Fund managers should be regarded as one of the trusted professionals in a person’s life – like, perhaps, they already consider their doctor, accountant or lawyer to be – but there’s work to do to get to that point.
“We need to set high standards for ourselves – over transparency of fees, realistic and clear fund objectives and not ‘selling’ but offering services that are useful – and then hold ourselves accountable.”
A change of tack for the industry?
Newton’s Helena Morrissey appears to have her sights set on a clear agenda for the IMA and as its chairman she will be key in shaping the fund management trade body.
Change has already started under chief executive Daniel Godfrey but Ms Morrissey will bring another dimension to its evolution.
Among her goals for the IMA are better communication that the industry is “trying to create wealth for people and improve their financial health” and attract young talent – “both male and female” – into fund management.