Should publishers launch their own investment propositions?

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Conflicts of interest are a constant in the world of financial services, it’s something that everyone is aware of.

However, there has to be a problem arising from national newspapers having both an editorial position and their own commercial interests via an investment proposition.

It’s a fact that The Telegraph partnership with Interactive Investor is not uncompetitive when compared with any other direct platform in the market. 

And there are other similar tie-ups in the industry such as Times Wealth Management, the Times’ deal with Bestinvest and Guardian Investing, a service launched in partnership with Skipton Financial Services.

The Telegraph has fought against both exit fees, where people choose to leave an investment provider to move elsewhere, and also written articles criticising probate fees when investors die. But the charges on its tie-up with Interactive Investor include both exit fees (£15 per line of stock after 10 trades) and a probate charge of £10 per line of stock when an investor dies.

The problem arises because The Telegraph has unequivocally state their own editorial agenda, which is, or has been, that fees associated with moving platforms are wrong. The Telegraph reporters are not to blame, obviously. But are these journalists’ principles being sacrificed for the sake of commercial values? And if so, does The Telegraph’s editorial independence – and therefore its integrity – cease to exist?

In defence of its charges, the Telegraph said: ”The Telegraph supports, and would welcome, a market where exit fees do not exist. In the meantime, identifying a company able to help us offer our customers low exit fees was an important element of our partner selection process, among other criteria.

“Telegraph Investor has committed to charging no exit fees for up to 10 lines of stock until the end of 2016, which we believe to be extremely competitive. The market is constantly changing and so we will regularly review our charges in the context of the wider market.” 

There appears to be a lack of consistency here. Is it a case of poor communication between journalists and sales? And more importantly, will The Telegraph continue to pursue its doggedly anti-exit fees editorial agenda in the wake of this deal being agreed?

Sam Macdonald is deputy head of investment news at Fundweb