Advisers urged to question fund managers

Financial advisers need to ask fund managers the hard questions when offer documents don't provide enough detail, according to Pathfinder executive director John Berry.

Tuesday, November 29th 2011, 6:33AM 2 Comments

by Niko Kloeten

Berry said concerns remain about the level of disclosure in offer documents in New Zealand for offshore investments.

He said the use of derivatives, leverage, liquidity of underlying assets, third party transactions, fee burdens and currency risk are issues that are often not fully or clearly disclosed.

"For example in relation to currency risk, many offer documents which invest in international assets do not even mention currency exposure or currency hedging in the product description," he said.

 "This is a grave oversight as the investment statement should give a clear explanation to investors."

And Berry warned that under new financial regulations, advisers have to make sure they have enough information to make accurate representations of products to their clients, or it could come back to bite them later on.

"There's a lot of moving parts in any fund.  The fund manager has to disclose them and the advisers have to grasp what the structure is and what the risks are for their clients."

He said advisers should ask three questions of fund managers after reading an offer document:

      What value does the manager add?

2.      What are the key risks for investors in the fund (and how does the manager mitigate these)?

3.       What other good questions do advisers ask?

The last question is good for flushing out key concerns an adviser might not have identified, although he noted it requires fund managers to be willing to disclose risk.

In the new environment fund managers could lose business if their offer documents are too opaque for advisers and investors, Berry said.

"You want to make it in a way people can understand - the days of people investing in things they don't understand are over."

Niko Kloeten can be contacted at

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Comments from our readers

On 1 December 2011 at 1:54 am Gary O said:
What other good questions do advisers ask...
What sort of question is that, moreover what sort of answer are you likely to get back?

Where is number 4. How much trail commission do I get?
On 1 December 2011 at 3:41 pm Craig Simpson said:
John does raise a good point in that most investment statements don't give you the full picture.

I would suggest that far too much emphasis in New Zealand is given by advisers towards returns and not enough on the systems and processes the manager has in place.

A couple of questions advisers may wish to ask are:

What risk management systems and mechanisms does the fund manager have in place to exit a stock.

What back office / administrations systems and resources are in place.

What reporting is available to clients and advisers.

A starter for 10.....
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