FCA delays decision on property fund reforms

Investors hurried for the exit, and the funds were at risk of having to conduct a fire-sale of assets to fulfill these withdrawals. 

Most funds gated for a number of months until the market settled and they were able to build up enough cash reserves to be satisfied that they could fulfill redemption requirements.

Some of them have only recently re-opened for withdrawals, with M&G's fund re-opening two weeks ago.

Notice periods

Last year the FCA conducted a consultation specifically on notice periods and said the feedback was split broadly in half.

Supporters of the proposals, which included notice periods of up to 180 days, said it would improve consumer protection and encourage long-term thinking from investors. 

Many of these responses added that rules would only be successful if the funds they applied to could retain their status as qualifying investments for Isas.

Those who opposed the notice periods said it would substantially reduce investor and adviser demand for the funds, and that real estate investment trusts did not offer an appropriate substitute because of ‘price volatility’. 

The naysayers added that a ‘one size fits all’ approach was not appropriate, and that the rules would  trigger considerable outflows from property funds, leading to the very liquidity crisis the FCA was trying to avoid. 

Other reasons for opposition included the challenges it would cause to wealth managers operating model portfolios, who would struggle to rebalance the portfolios and potentially causing them to breach agreed risk bands.

The earliest these rules will be implemented is in the third quarter this year, after the City watchdog has completed its consultation on long-term asset funds. 

The FCA added that if mandatory notice periods were applied, there would be an implementation period of 18 months to two year in order to allow firms to make operational changes.