Brit Watchdog Looking To Crack Down on Financial Sector

Fees being pushed to consumers unfairly

A new plan by British financial regulators to crack down on the over $8.4 trillion of unfair customer fees in the fund management sector is now underway, according to the a chief executive.

Asset managers currently pay brokers a standard commission to cover trading fees, as well as research to help work on particular investment strategies. They are allowed to pass on the cost to customers, who are also forced to pay an investment fund an annual management fee.

Customers have been upset by the higher charges since they first had to take them on. The regulators have thus been trying to head off intervention by creating solutions within the industry. However, the consumers appear to still not be interested in handling what they see as unfair fees.

Primary concerns of the asset managers include the stretching of definitions of research and use of client omissions to cover particular services according to chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Martin Wheatley. He spoke to the watchdog’s annual asset management conference on the matter.

“Examples of this poor practice include firms allocating significant sums of their Bloomberg and Reuters subscriptions, not all of which could be justified as viable research,” he said.

Wheatley also cited the payment to brokers for arranging meetings for the company managers that are passed on to consumers.

“We estimate that anything up to 500 million pounds of dealing commission was spent in 2012 to facilitate corporate access,” Wheatley said.

“As an example, last year we discovered a firm that was rewarding brokers predominantly based on the corporate access they provided. This averaged out to each individual investment manager paying over 100,000 pounds just to gain access to the management of companies they wanted to invest in.”

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