Jeff Prestridge 

Magic tricks? Just Kidding

Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge

I cannot look at a key information document (Kid) without thinking of the late great Tommy Cooper. Both bring forth spontaneous laughter followed by floods of tears.

Although Mr Cooper was a member of the Magic Circle, part of his likeability – apart from his red fez and massive frame – was his willingness to make fun of his own magic. His tricks would often go wrong – deliberately – or would end in farce. The audience would howl with laughter.

One of my Tommy Cooper favourites was a trick with a toy duck where he asked a member of the audience to think of a card: "Any card, Sir." He then used the toy duck to pick up a card, proclaiming: "Now this duck will take your chosen card from that pack."

Turning to the man in the audience, he asked: ‘What was your card, Sir?’ Tommy waited for the answer. "Five of diamonds," the gentleman replied. Tommy looked at the card the toy duck had selected. "Correct," he said, before throwing the card behind him.

Only Mr Cooper could get away with this, but the audience lapped it up. I would sit in front of the television at home and cry with laughter. I also loved his Cooperisms: "I bought some HP sauce the other day. It’s costing me 6p a month for the next two years."

The Kid is the financial services industry’s homage to Mr Cooper’s box of magic tricks. But, sadly, unlike a bit of Cooper magic, it does not seek to entertain. In theory, it is meant to inform, enlighten and enable investors to make better decisions.

In practice, nothing could be further from the truth. It misleads, is built on fantasy numbers and should be revised as a matter of urgency. It is as if numbers contained within it have been plucked out of the sky by a Tommy Cooper toy duck.

The Kid has been forced on us by an unholy alliance of European busybodies – the European Securities and Markets Authority (Esma) and the European Commission – and an out-of-touch UK regulator with nothing better to do than dream up bizarre ways to keep its battalion of employees employed. Not to put too fine a point on it, it is all rather perturbing.

As one individual with a career steeped in fund management said, the rules underpinning the creation of Kid represent by "far the worst piece of financial regulation ever in Europe – and the Financial Conduct Authority is complicit".

Kids are a result of the packaged retail and insurance-based investment products (Priips) regulation. Every investment trust must make them available to investors and wannabe investors. They are also required for other investment funds, but currently not in the detail demanded of investment trusts.

The fault-line lies in the presentation of the likely returns an investor can get from investing in a particular investment trust. No one is capable of making such predictions – not even the Warren Buffetts of this world – but Esma, the commission and the regulator have decided between them that they know. How wrong they are.

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