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Beware of the Year 2000 bug

Investors and advisers are being warned to consider the impact of the Year 2000 bug on their investments.

Thursday, September 24th 1998, 12:00AM

by Philip Macalister

Investors and advisers are being warned to consider the impact of the Year 2000 bug on their investments.
The two major issues are whether fund managers will have their systems Year 2000 complaint in time, and whether they are making sure companies they invest in are compliant.
International investment consultants Mercer Investment Consulting has recently surveyed about 14 wholesale managers seeking answers to these questions.
Director Garry Hawker says the results were mixed. Most managers appeared to be making progress towards having their systems compliant, however there was a wide variance in how they were dealing with the investment process.

"While some trustees are seeking assurances from their fund managers and custodians as to the compliance of their computer systems, little attention is being given locally by trustees to the potential for investment losses," Mercer chief executive Louis Boulanger says.
''While most responses commented on the state of compliance of the fund managers’ computer systems, very few actually commented at all on the investment-related issues raised.''
Hawker says investors, advisers and trustees should be aware of what role the Year 2000 compliance issue plays in a fund managers stock selection process.
While it is unknown how big the problem may be a worst case scenario could see companies which aren't compliant going out of business.
Mercer's note that one high-profile economist has predicted that there is a 70 per cent risk of a worldwide recession at least as severe as that triggered by the "oil shock" in the 1970’s.
''While there are divergent views on its severity, there can be no doubt that Year 2000 compliance represents an investment risk that needs to be managed. Trustees of investment funds (and advisers) must satisfy themselves that their managers are treating the issue seriously and taking reasonable steps," Boulanger says.
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