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Tax changes push money to active management

A shift away from passively managed funds is under way in advance of tax changes due to take effect from April.

Thursday, February 22nd 2007, 7:07AM

by Rob Hosking

That means products like AMP’s highly successful Winz product, which invests in grey list countries, will have to change, AMP’s head of investment strategy Leo Krippner says.

“We will continue to run the Winz products for as long as there is demand for them, and we do know there is still a reasonable demand,” he says.

“But one of the reasons it was such a successful product was people wanted exposure to global shares passively.”

With the abolition of the grey list, and the move to treat all offshore investments under the same fair dividend rate (FDR) of 5%, there is a need to move to a different method of indexation, he says.

“There’s now no particular advantage of investing those grey list countries, so we’re looking at basing it on one of the MSCI indices.”

That work, though, is still at a preliminary stage.

The tax changes overall have made for a positive shift, however, in that they make actively managed funds more attractive.

“The old tax rules made life prohibitively challenging for actively managed global shares, because less of the global share returns come via dividends,” says Krippner.

“Even a healthy measure of added value left the active managed well behind in after-tax returns. Added value would need to have been 3.7% per annum, and so we adopted mainly ‘passive’ for our balanced funds.”

That is now changing with the tax changes and any added value from active management will show up directly in after-tax returns.

“We believe in active management, so we will switch our existing balanced fund allocations to global shares from passive to active.”

Rob Hosking is a Wellington-based freelance writer specialising in political, economic and IT related issues.

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