A HUSBAND and wife investment management team will bring their campaign against hidden fees to Scotland next week when they seek support for legislation to force firms to be more transparent.
Alan and Gina Miller claim that investors are paying £18 billion a year in hidden costs and dealing fees relating to pensions, savings, unit trusts and other investments.
The pair are demanding changes to the regulations governing investment managers so that firms have to include all their fees and charges in a single upfront figure.
The Millers claim that abolishing hidden fees and labelling financial products with one clear charge will allow customers to make like-for-like comparisons.
They also want funds to disclose where all their assets are held on a quarterly basis, rather than just once a year in their annual reports, to further increase transparency and let customers see where their money is being invested.
Introducing such rules would bring the UK into line with the United States, where consumers can already compare fees and funds’ holdings, the Millers said.
The couple are lining up meetings with MSPs and independent financial advisers in Edinburgh next week as they seek support for their “True and Fair” campaign. As well as lobbying Westminster, the pair want to see similar regulations introduced across the European Union.
Gina Miller said: “Hidden fees are a problem that affect all investors across the industry, both small private investors and big institutions.
“The Financial Services Authority issued a report in 2000 calling for greater transparency, but 12 years later nothing’s changed.”
Alan Miller added: “We hope that the replacement of the FSA with the Financial Conduct Authority will be an opportunity for a new broom to clean up the sector.”
Alan Miller was chief investment officer and one of the founding shareholders at New Star Asset Management, having previously served as
a director at Jupiter Asset Management and as a senior fund manager at Gartmore Investment Management.
His wife founded a marketing agency before the couple set up their current investment management venture, SCM Private.
The Investment Management Association (IMA), the trade body that represents the sector, said it is currently consulting on voluntary guidelines over transparency.
A spokeswoman for the IMA said a single figure for fees could be misleading for customers because transaction costs and other fees can vary.
Owen Kelly, chief executive of trade body Scottish Financial Enterprise, added: “Customers have every right to transparency on costs and the IMA has issued some guidance, based on European Union rules, that helps to achieve this.
“In particular, it proposes fuller explanations of the nature of different charges, and this is to be welcomed.”
But Gina Miller argued that a voluntary code of conduct for the industry was not enough and the law needs to be changed.
“It’s not just about who can have the cheapest fees,” she added. “Some investors will be happy to pay a higher fee if they see they’re getting a higher return”
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