Investments 

MPs to probe regulators on Woodford fund debacle

MPs to probe regulators on Woodford fund debacle

Regulators from the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are to be quizzed by a group of MPs about the suspension of the Woodford Equity Income fund.

Nicky Morgan MP, chair of the Treasury Select Committee, said she will raise the issue of the suspension of Mr Woodford’s fund when she and her colleagues on the committee meet Ben Broadbent, a deputy governor of the Bank of England on 11 June, and Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on 25 June.

She has also called on Mr Woodford to waive his management fees while his fund is being suspended.

Mr Woodford’s £3.7bn fund was suspended on Monday, meaning investors cannot access their cash. The suspension will run for a minimum of 28 days from Monday, but can be renewed.

The fund manager said he had taken the step of suspending the mandate because the volume of outflows, which ran at about £9m per working day in May, meant it was difficult for him to get the best prices when selling assets, including the tranche of unquoted assets he has committed to selling by the end of the year.

Mr Woodford’s other funds, Patient Capital investment trust and the Woodford Income Focus fund, remain open, and investors can buy and sell their investments in those mandates.

Yesterday (6 June) wealth manager St James Place removed Woodford as manager of £3bn of its assets, or about 3 per cent of its total assets under management.

This came after Hargreaves Lansdown removed the fund from is Wealth 50 buylist on Monday, with Woodford's other fund, the £552m Woodford Income Focus fund, cut from the list yesterday.

Hargreaves also waived its platform fees for investors in the fund.

Ms Morgan said in a statement today (June 6): "Investors in the Woodford Fund have been locked out of accessing their cash. Yet it has been reported that Mr Woodford is taking in nearly £100,000 in management fees a day.

"The suspension of trading has provided Mr Woodford with some breathing room to fix his fund; he should afford his investors the same space and waive the fund’s fees while the fund is suspended.

"The FCA has rightly said that it is closely watching the fund. The Treasury Committee will no doubt raise this troubling episode, and what lessons can be learnt, when we take evidence from the FCA and Bank of England."

The FCA said in a statement yesterday: "The FCA is notified of the decision to suspend funds it does not approve them.  

"Suspension is not an outcome the FCA seeks to avoid if it is in the best interest of fund investors. Suspensions are recognised as a legitimate tool internationally."

david.thorpe@ft.com