Hidden costs campaign sparks industry debate

The asset management industry has been divided following the launch of a new campaign by former New Star chief investment officer Alan Miller.

The True & Fair Campaign launch­ed last week to huge media interest, calling for 100% transparency on where money is invested and the “full underlying cost of investments”.

The campaign, backed by Miller’s wealth management firm, SCM Priv­ate, claimed dealing costs, “one of the largest hidden elements”, of £18.5 billion would be paid for the whole of the UK savings and investment industry.

Gina Miller, the co-founder of SCM Private, said: “We live in a world of transparency, where consumers can access information at the click of a button to make informed and knowledgeable decisions. Yet the investment industry has failed to keep up. (article continues below)

“The basic problem is that it pays these companies to be confusing and opaque and not utilise technology. “

Alan Miller, the chief investment officer of SCM Private, says: “In 2000, an FSA commissioned research paper found that in the UK, only half the overall fees and costs were disclosed to investors.

“Eleven years later, precious little has changed. The industry falls shamefully short of the full quarterly investment transparency that has been mandatory in the US since 2004.”

However, the figures were challenged by some in the industry.

The asset manager trade body Investment Management Association (IMA) has already claimed that hidden costs running up to billions are a “complete myth”.

Richard Saunders, the chief executive of the IMA, last month labelled ­stor­­ies of hidden charges as “false”.

“If the accusation were true, it would show up in the net returns achieved by investors. But there is no sign of it,” he said last month.

Yet, growing calls for transparency have been voiced by others in the industry, including Fidelity Worldwide Investment UK managing director Gary Shaughnessy.

Last week, Shaughnessy said a “lack of clarity is distracting from the real benefits that investing in funds has brought to millions of people in the UK and around the world”.

He added: “A consistent way of showing charges is essential to restoring investors’ trust in the industry.”