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News Round Up

Morningstar's take on Brook and Milford; S&P rates Russell funds as top notch; Healthy workers mean business; EUFA on the war path; New Plymouth financial adviser top performer; IRD warns on income diversion.

Monday, April 21st 2008, 6:00AM

by Maddy Milicich

Morningstar's take on Brook and others
Morningstar has released research reports for two of Brook Asset Management's funds, as well as for Milford Asset Management, ING. and Brook Alpha.

The Brook Tasman fund, which focuses on the top 50 stocks in New Zealand and the top 200 in Australia, was ranked "recommended" by Morningstar, who said: "Brook's capable investment team continues to demonstrate that it can keep ahead of the pack over the long term, and despite questions around the new ownership structure, this remains a great core trans-Tasman equities offering."

It ranked the Brook Alpha fund as "recommended". The fund, which targets well-managed companies in attractive industries, remains a "classy domestic equities offering."

The Milford fund, Morningstar says, has an aggressive portfolio that doesn't follow any type of investment style or discipline. It was ranked as "investment grade".

Morningstar said Milford's "Aggressive strategy is an intriguing domestic equities offering, although we suggest only those with a healthy appetite for risk should take up at this stage."

S&P rates Russell funds as top notch

Two of Russell's international equity funds have received a four-star rating following the Standard & Poor's (S&P) International Equity Multi Manager Review.

The two funds, the Global Opportunities Fund and the International Shares Fund, both of which are available in New Zealand, achieved the highest rating given to managers in the International Equity Multi Manager sub-category. In total, there were 13 multi-manager products offered by six investment managers.

S&P said it positively viewed Russell's large global network that support the investment process through "fund manager due diligence and ability to identify new alpha-generating managers."

Healthy workers mean business
Employers could find it easier to attract and retain staff to meet the skills shortages in many industries if they added health benefits to employment packages, according to Health Funds Association executive director Roger Styles.

A report by advisory firm Grant Thornton showed New Zealand firms viewed attaching health benefits to contracts of low importance, compared to other countries.

"People are increasingly asking for health insurance as part of their package. Firms that offer it are the ones that can attract and retain staff. It's a factor in the desire for work-life balance," says Styles.

EUFA on the war path
A suggestion by Commerce Minister, Lianne Dalziel that Kiwis need to become more savvy investors, has infuriated EUFA coordinator Suzanne Edmonds.

The minister made the comments in an address Institute of Financial Advisers and the Financial Planning Standards Board, saying she didn't understand why people invest in products without "hard work and taking independent professional advice."

She went on to say the government shouldn't have to provide a "legislative backstop to risk".

According to Dalziel, "There is no such thing as a 'sure-fire bet' or a 'safe as houses' investment."

Edmonds believes Dalziel's comments are a "total cop-out".

New Plymouth financial adviser top performer
New Plymout financial adviser Evan Cottam has been named 2007 Financial Adviser of the Year, by Spicers Portfolio Management.

The New Plymouth team also won Spicers 2007 Regional Office of the Year award.

Spicers chief executive Gordon Noble-Campbell says the annual awards are presented to the company's top performing advisers to recognise outstanding client advice, service and performance.

"Winning both awards is a strong endorsement of the reputation and trust which the Spicers New Plymouth team has achieved among clients."

IRD warns on income diversion
Inland Revenue has issued a warning to people who divert personal services income in an effort to pay less tax.

Group Tax Counsel Graham Tubb says the department has an ongoing concern about people who divert some or all of the personal services income they earn into an entity, such as a trust or a company, to take advantage of lower income tax rates.

"We acknowledge that there are legitimate business reasons for using such entities, and the use of such business structures does not necessarily amount to tax avoidance," he said.

"However, some cases contain common features which would encourage us to look at them further. These features include the entity employing the person for either no payment, or payment at an artificially low level, and a redistribution of the entity's income to the person or to family members."

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