Multi-assetNov 17 2015

Multi-asset launches slump despite pension freedoms

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Multi-asset launches slump despite pension freedoms

Mixed-asset fund launches in the UK have dropped off in 2014 and 2015 in spite of the widespread perception that pension freedoms have created a boom in numbers, new figures show.

Statistics from Lipper reveal there were just 43 mixed-asset fund launches in 2014, the year in which pension freedoms were first announced.

This is the lowest figure for five years and is less than half the 90 that were started in 2010.

The running total for 2015 is broadly in keeping with last year’s drop. As of November 9, 47 mixed-asset funds have debuted in the UK this year.

The overall number of launches has fallen in recent years as asset managers take a more cautious approach to product development. But mixed- and multi-asset funds had been seen as bucking that trend as the industry moved further towards outcome-focused solutions, not least those aimed at retirees.

Square Mile Investment Consulting and Research managing director Richard Romer-Lee said the mixed-asset figures indicated many fund groups were still pondering how best to serve the retirement market.

He said: “People are still working out [their products] and what exactly mixed-asset funds are trying to do.

“You would expect to see an increase in the number of mixed-asset funds seeking to generate an absolute return or an income.

“It is also quite hard – not everyone has the depth of resource, or perhaps the courage to launch an absolute return fund, where performance is very measurable.”

The lower figures for the past two years compare with 62 launches in 2013 and 58 in 2012, according to the data provider.

Firms seeking to convert products rather than launching new offerings may have had an impact. Mr Romer-Lee noted: “One would hope that what they are doing is acknowledging a change in demand among investors. Some probably think, ‘this hasn’t worked, let’s see if we can morph it into something else’, but I hope it is more a case of the former.”

The sheer number of funds already in existence might also explain the drop, according to the Square Mile MD. This view was echoed by Fundhouse managing director Rory Maguire. “When the base rate fell off a cliff in 2009, the market responded very quickly by coming up with income products,” he said.

“More recently, there is the question as to whether fund houses can come up with the right products to meet demand.”

Sales of mixed-asset funds have oscillated this year, presenting a conflicting picture of whether appetite for the products is increasing.