A Christmas letter from the fund industry

Posted by Robin Powell on December 17, 2015

 

Dear clients

Yes, it’s that time of year again when thoughts turn to mulled wine, mistletoe, bonuses, mince pies, bonuses.. and those less fortunate than ourselves (which in our case is pretty much everyone).

How time flies! It only seems like yesterday that we were posting the worst fund performance figures in living memory, for 2014. Yet here we are, 12 months later, looking back on another year of dismal returns.

2015 has certainly been challenging on the work front. We don’t mean beating the market — most of us gave up on that years ago — but the constant downward pressure on fees, the calls for greater transparency and the mounting evidence from all over the world that we, as an industry, extract far more value from the investment process than we add.

The job itself is hard enough. Tracking an index while pretending to do something useful isn’t easy. In fact it’s a wonder any of us find time for all those golf days for advisers, let alone for yachting, luxury holidays or high-performance sports cars. But we do.

This has also been a year tinged with sadness. Several major hedge funds have closed in recent weeks. Active mutual funds and ETFs are also closing at a record rate. Just before Christmas as well — it can’t be easy for them.

But there’s been good news too. Most importantly, pay and bonuses continue to soar, putting us almost on a level now with investment bankers.

We’re also managing to hold back the tide of regulation. The Fiduciary Rule in the United States and MiFID II in Europe, for example, are both on hold. With more concerted lobbying, we might even prevent them from ever becoming law.

That’s precisely why our New Year’s resolution is to spend more time with friends. Public pension fund trustees, politicians, regulators and journalists will all be lavishly wined and dined in the months ahead.

It just remains to thank you, our clients, for your continued support and, more importantly, to thank the army of advertisers and PR consultants, without whom this whole charade would have been exposed long before now.

We wish you all a happy Christmas and (who knows?) maybe even a prosperous 2016.

Robin Powell

Robin is a journalist and campaigner for positive change in global investing. He runs Regis Media, a niche provider of content marketing for financial advice firms with an evidence-based investment philosophy. He also works as a consultant to other disruptive firms in the investing sector.

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