Heavyweights duke out investment strategies
Two heavyweights of the New Zealand financial industry have gone head to head in a debate at the IFA conference over whether investing direct or via managed funds is the better option.
Wednesday, July 18th 2012, 8:10AM 4 Comments
by Niko Kloeten
In the direct investment corner was Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners; representing managed funds was Milford Asset Management’s Brian Gaynor.
Lister said some of the benefits of investing directly included transparency, liquidity, income generation and low fees, as well as the ability to tailor a portfolio to your exact needs.
“Knowing what they own is really crucial,” he said. “People don’t like to see a black box type fund that owns a bunch of things; they want to know what shares and companies they own and what markets they are in.”
He also said fund managers tend to underperform the market on average, referencing a study reported in The Economist that found that between 1980 and 2005 the US stock market returned 12.3% per year but the average managed US share fund only returned 10.0%.
Lister used the example of Warren Buffet to show how fund management fees can eat into returns.
An investment of $1000 in Berkshire Hathaway in 1965 would be worth $5.1 million today, he said; however, if Buffet charged like some fund managers do (1.5% base fee with a 20% performance fee above an 8% hurdle) that amount would have been reduced to $1.1 million.
However, Gaynor said the introduction of the PIE (Portfolio Investment Entity) regime in 2007 had significantly changed the equation in the New Zealand context in favour of managed funds.
He used his company as an example, saying that in June 2007 pre-PIE the investment team managed none of Milford’s funds under management while advisers managed 100%; now the investment team manages 81% and the advisers only 19%.
“Managed funds have more legal protection; they are subject to the prospectus regime whereas direct funds are not,” Gaynor said.
He mentioned the debacle over Hubbard Management Funds, which has resulted in a court battle over distribution of investor funds, as an example of what can go wrong in a legal sense with the direct approach.
He said managed funds offered some advantages in terms of investment management: “Direct funds only have a buy and hold strategy whereas managed funds can take advantage of market volatility.”
Another benefit of managed funds, he said, is the exposure investors can get to small-cap companies not researched by the big broking firms.
Niko Kloeten can be contacted at email@example.com
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