FCA urged to probe buylists after Woodford debacle

Of Mr Woodford's three retail funds only one did not make it onto the list, the Woodford Patient Capital investment trust, which is the best performing of his funds over the past year.

The reason might be that there are no investment trusts on Hargreaves' buylist. As companies listed on the stock exchange, there is no mechanism for investment trusts to offer a discount to one client ahead of another.

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Mr Dampier has defended the exclusion of investment trusts from the buylist in the past by saying they are not "investments for the man in the street" due to the nature of discounts and premia.

A representative of Hargreaves Lansdown told FTAdviser today (June 6): "We use a strict quantitative and qualitative analysis process to identify the funds we think are the best in class.

"Only once we have identified those funds with potential, we then use the negotiating power of 1.2m clients to bring down the costs of investing. The combination informs our decision.  

"All of the benefit of the discounts are passed onto clients to reduce the costs of investing. Our aim is to enable our clients to invest in best-in-class funds at lower fees. 

"Our favourite fund choices have, for the most part, beaten their sector averages and benchmarks. Not every fund has, and we share our clients' disappointment and frustration when they don’t.

"Those invested with Woodford over the last 10 years will be up 121 per cent however his recent performance has been disappointing." 

The regulator already reflected on fund buylists in its Investment Platforms Market Study last year, when it acknowledged they had a likely impact on consumer behaviour but said there were no worrying trends.

At the time it stated: "We expect Best Buy lists to be constructed on an impartial basis. 

"Platforms should be free to enter, expand and compete by negotiating with fund managers to secure discounts on fund charges."

It said it had looked at the commercial relationships between platforms and fund managers to see whether these affected their incentives and ability to negotiate.

It found: "On average, discounts are small – around 8 basis points – and the amount of assets under administration in discounted funds increased slightly over 2013-2017.

"Of the largest 100 funds in 2017, 33 per cent have no discounts on any platforms, and the average discount was around 8 basis points and the largest was 38 basis points.

"Larger platforms which have greater influence over investor choices tend to be more successful in negotiating more, and larger, discounts.

"These trends indicate that platforms are under some competitive pressure to negotiate with fund managers. This trend may grow as, under Mifid II, consumers get information about the total cost of investment."