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More questions to ponder about credit funds

Thursday, December 18th 2008, 6:36PM 32 Comments

by Philip Macalister

While ING is no doubt unhappy that the status of its credit funds have hit the headlines, I would have to say that it has been the sleeping dog of the industry all year.

Clearly from the amount of coverage the story has had, plus the responses to previous Blogs, it is something which has bothered many people. It’s also something, I suggest, may create a few fault lines within the industry.

Some may consider a previous Blog as putting the boot into ING. I can assure you that was not its purpose. The issue raised then was about its communications strategy – or lack thereof.

ING has acknowledged it dropped the ball here and has even apologised.

There are two other issues which are worth debating, namely how the funds were sold and the issue of unitholder equity.

On the first I put this question to ING chief executive Helen Troup: Were these funds mis-sold?

She “strongly refuted” this suggestion. Her response was in two parts. No, ING did not misrepresent the funds. Secondly, it had no control over how advisers sold the funds.

I accept the point that at the time the funds were promoted ING did not deliberately mislead advisers and clients.

My definition of mis-selling is where a company or person goes and deliberately misrepresents a product. I would suggest Bridgecorp was closer to mis-selling as it portrayed its business quite differently to reality.

With the credit funds, the issue here is two-fold. Firstly these were new, highly engineered products that no one really knew how they would perform, especially when the markets change.

It brings to mind that adage about only investing in things you really understand.

Secondly, is the question when the credit crisis started last year, did ING change its view on these funds and how they were performing, and did they communicate the situation to investors and advisers?

I can’t answer that question, but hindsight would suggest that it should have been changing its marketing tactics.

The other point is around investor equity. It seems that quite a few investors managed to exit these funds at, what now looks like, good prices between when the credit crisis started and the date of the freeze of redemptions in April.

This is something which is a bottom line issue. If the remaining investors get some tiny return of principal – say 15c in the dollar then there is surely a case that the company should come to the party to some degree.

« Now the hard work for HanoverWhat does 2009 hold? »

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Comments from our readers

On 18 December 2008 at 7:44 pm Sewer Rat said:
An Analogy:
In 2004, I bought a Lada dealership(ING advisors and ANZ)
The benefits from Lada(ING) where great.
I didn't look under the bonnet nor understand how the thing worked(cdo's)
But I sold them anyway, especially when a car magazine said they where hot! (research houses)
Now I blame Lada(ING) when they broke(cdo's)
and absolve myself from any responsibility and blame Lada(ING)

What I should have done is: researched how the Lada Engine worked (ING's cdo's)
If I didn't I should have sold Austin Alegros(Finance companies)- a fine family car (crap)
Then again, I might have covered both bases ane had a joint dealership and sold Ladas(cdo's) and Alegros (finance companies). Now I'm really a good car salesman!
Should Lada(ING) front up? SURE
Should the Dealership(ING people, those with ING "sales agreements" and ANZ) front up? You bet!
The poor punters (- I hate that word, should read "the client") are the one I'm sorry for.
On 18 December 2008 at 9:00 pm Red Dog The Pirate Guy said:
Ok here is something for you all to chew over.

There are not many NZ owned Banks---TSB,SBS and Kiwiwbank that is it.

SBS has been building market share over the years,and with good reason.
The obtaining of a banking licence has further strengthened its hand.

SBS has a financial advisory arm,and Graham Duston its head,who is based in Christchurch,made a PR tour earlier in the year.

I quote from a template SBS portfolio report dated April 2008 in respect of the year ended 31 March 2008.

"In August 2007 we reviewed all of our investment portflios and came to the following conclusion----

That issues existed with offshore fixed interest markets and that NZ Cash and quality fixed interest looked better value.

We exited the ING Diversified Yield Fund and the ING Regular Income Funds.

These funds have now fallen a further 27% since we pulled out and investors are unable to exit their funds.

We used the proceeds from these investments to hold more cash[Via the SBS Lifestages Mortgage Fund] and purchase extra bonds."

I have only a small portfolio in front of me,but it reads for the ING Diversified Yield Fund.

Value 1 April 2007 $26,746.14
Amount Withdrawn $24,194.15

Graham seemed quite proud of this decision when he visited.
I have to give him a pat on the back.
He deserves it.

By contrast,the letter I saw from ANZ's wealth department to an aggrieved investor said they knew nothing about the state of these ING funds before anyone else,and only knew what ING told them.

Now why would you bank with ANZ instead of SBS ?
On 19 December 2008 at 2:57 am boofters said:
I find it a bit sad that a group of advisors are after ING's blood. Graham from SBS deserves congrats, but not a street parade! Surely this is his job?
If an advisor has been caught out by these funds he only has himself to blame and should front up unless the prospectus failed to mention the types of instruments used to create 'premium' income, then ING also should front up, but surely this was disclosed??
Anyone out there have a copy?
On 19 December 2008 at 10:48 am Waggle Sword said:
Some time ago I worked for a bank advisory service (not ANZ) and they dreamed up what they promoted as a safe managed fund investment which was as safe as a term investment, but gave a better return. On reading the fine print I concluded it was not as safe as it was promoted and refused to promote it, even though it was to have a permanent $1.00 unit price. My concerns were passed on to management who told me to go away, and by me not promoting this investment it became a performance issue! My last look at the funds unit price it was below $1.00.

I feel some sympathy for the ANZ Advisers. They are under immense pressure to perform. They have targets to meet and must weigh up the pressure to sell, against whats best for the client. Unfortunately too many Advisers cave into the pressure of the former.

However it is quite apparent that the RIF and DYF was promoted as a safe investment, not only to ANZ Advisers, but to other Advisers as well. What is apparent is that those Advisers who sold the RIF & DYF is that they did not understand the nature of the investment, because if they had done some research as well they would have realised the risk. The company I was with at the time ING promoted the RIF & DYF wanted to promote it, but after discussion amongst advisers we decided to leave it alone, especially as most of our clients were over 65. We concluded that there was some risk to capital if markets turned to custard. Little did we know how prophetic we were!

My advice to the investment advisory industry is do not accept fund managers information at face value! Do your homework!
On 19 December 2008 at 11:26 am Red Dog The Pirate Guy said:
Graham deserves a street parade because SBS are the only advisors I am aware of who pulled their clients out at this point in time.

How many others can you inform me of ?

I contrast the more caring NZ based SBS with the less caring Australian based ANZ.

The group of advisors who are "After ING's blood" are at least saying something in public,rather than carrying on as if nothing has happened,which is the case with so many in the financial planning game,and I congratulate them for that.

As a country we are simply not militant enough,and I am a fan of waving a placard around.

Those of us dealing with aggrieved investors have copies of lots of different material.
On 19 December 2008 at 11:35 am Steve J said:
It seems that the SBS advisor got it right this time - how many times has he got it wrong on other occasions (and said nothing). Although congratulations seem forthcoming what about all the advisors who never touched the ING funds in the first place who actually bothered to do due diligence and not listen to the ING saletalk. They are the ones to talk and listen to.
On 19 December 2008 at 11:42 am WTF? said:
Phil,
As a journalist don't be afraid to get stuck into ING and advisers by pussyfooting around and avoiding an opinion for fear of offending them.
Grow some balls. Is this meant to be a blog or what?
Unfortunately this article is missing the point completely.
The problem is way in which the "financial advisor" and fund management industry operates in NZ, feeding off each other.
It is totally immoral, and borderline illegal.
How can ANY "independent" adviser on one hand charge a client fees for "independent advice" and with the other take trail commissions (whether hard cash or soft holidays to Fiji) from the fund managers, and then claim that their advice is independent, or without a conflict of interest???
Not to mention that the insurance company fund managers they invest in have history of chronically under performing the markets they invest in, and have no transparency.
Then who washes their hands of wrongdoing and claims no responsibility for their actions while having a little tanty about lack of communication from the insurance companies????
Saying that they are ashamed to wear their ING polo shirts on the gold course now boo hoo.
Advisers YOU ruined peoples lives, by buying into this.
People trusted you as a professional, as they would an accountant, lawyer or builder, but unlike them you have no legal obligation act in your clients best interests, and are totally unaccountable.
Take some responsibility.
On 19 December 2008 at 1:13 pm ING Fan Club said:
I think you people that have been criticising ING are nasty, horrible people.

Look, I know that ING sold these funds as low to moderate risk and compared them in risk to the PPS Mortgage Fund and PPS International Fixed Interest Fund but it's unfair that you should now expect them to stand behind their products. Why should they unless they are forced to?

I bet if Fisher and Paykel had a catastrophic failure their washing machines THEY wouldn't stand behind THEIR products either. They would probably say "well we had the motors made in Vietnam so it's not OUR fault - blame the manufacturer in Vietnam".

The public love companies who make a principled stand like this and fail to stand behind their products. I bet F&P would get lots more people buying there products if they took this stance.

Heck at least ING and the ANZ are willing to lend their customers $100 million + interest. I bet F&P Finance wouldn't lend people money to get their dodgy washing machines fixed.

So good on ya ING. Why should ANZ (profit $3.3 billion) and ING (7th. largest company in the world) have to use any of their hard earned profits to look after their customers. Put profits before customers every time I say. None of those old fashioned 'customers first' attitudes, I say. This is the 21st.century after all.

I have to take my hat off to ING and ANZ - the certainly know how to build customer and advisor loyalty. They could certainly teach the rest of us with those good 'old' fashioned values a lesson.

P.S. I am just a fan club of ONE at the moment. I am desperate for more members. Any volunteers out there?
On 19 December 2008 at 5:48 pm Red Dog The Pirate Guy said:
Well Stevie your task is to do some research and come back with some situations in which SBS got it wrong.

As for WTF,there are a lot of suckers out there in New Zealand for commission salesmen to leech off.
I don't like sales types and have never had any life insurance or medical insurance.
I keep away from Flash Harrys who drive BMW four wheel drives.
You can't tell a book by its cover.
Alot of people get sucked in by appearances.
Don't get sucked in by the "I was educated at Massey University" logo.
Once in sales,always in sales.

True professionals are remunerated on the basis of time,not on the basis of commission.

As for Phil,there is no point giving him a hard time.
He presents the topic.
It is up to the bloggers to make the action.
On 20 December 2008 at 9:39 am Peanut H said:
So BFR Dog reckons, "true professionals are remunerated on the basis of time, not on the basis of commission", what a load of bollocks. To also boast of never had any life insurance or medical insurance conjures up images of a fat rich red dog who doesn't need it or has no one in their life to care about. I also reckon there are more time based remunerated professionals sitting in jail at the moment than commissioned salesman. True professionalism comes from putting the clients interests first no matter how you are remunerated. As for GD of SBS, even a blind Squirrel can find a acorn once in a while.
On 20 December 2008 at 11:01 am Hopeful said:
Any possibility that posts on this forum could refrain from the use of derogatory language, unsubstantiated generalisations and efforts to self promote by denigrating other advisers? What impression of the NZ industry are we presenting? Forums such as this can be viewed anywhere around the globe and not just by advisers.
On 20 December 2008 at 11:01 am Red Dog The Pirate Guy said:
Mr Head sounds like the man from the Prudential out of the Readers Digest.

I am continually having to protect people against these predators who try to sell them insurance for everything they can possibly think of.

Last week a bank manager assisted me by pointing out to a customer that life and medical insurance payments of over $17,000 per annum were a little on the high side,as coupled with business insurance and ACC of another $10,000 per annum,this was manifestly excessive for what could be afforded.

Of course he had been sucked into life insurance for the kids,plus the loss of income and Trauma insurance[an interesting new "product" imported from the good old USA in recent years]

I had great pleasure in emailing the guy a website which offered term life insurance at a 10% discount.
His socks were knocked off when he saw how cheap it was to obtain basic life cover.
His agent had him lined up to buy some new products,thus was not impressed.
Tough.
He should get a real job,perhaps clipping tickets at a Movie Theatre.

For the record Mr Head,I come from penniless immigrant stock,work up to seventy hours a week and don't like Roger Douglas,Eric Watson and Roddy Petrocevic,but admire Mr Hubbard[Not the one from Jafaland],Winston Peters[He's a lawyer so if you know any lawyers you will realise that they never admit they have done anything wrong] and Rodney Hide.
I'm prepared to give John Key a shot at it,not that I disliked Helen Clark.

My old man grew up in a one bedroomed cottage with no running water,a cobblestone floor,a diet of milk and potatoes with meat once a week and two beds for two adults and six children people.
My mother's old man worked on the railways.
So I was brought up to know the value of money.

If you read the court news you would realise that we live in a welfare state where people can pool their funds,party for days and afford to go to MacDonalds for breakfast.
In this country there are cheap places to live if you are prepared to live,and plenty of work if you are prepared to live where it is.
The Labour Governments' changes to Family support mean a man on $40,000 per annum with two kids gets a tax refund for the year.

Before 1975 I don't know anyone who had loss of income insurance,Medical Insurance,ACC or Trauma insurance.
Yesterday's luxuries are today's necessities.

As for commission salesmen,yes honest car dealers do exist.
I know one and he went broke.
There are alot of people out there who consider there are a large number of financial salespeople who should be behind bars.
Hopefully some might get there to balance up your obviously well researched data on prison inmates.

Interesting that you have a bone to pick with SBS.
Mark my words Mr Head,they will continue to build market share at your expense.
On 21 December 2008 at 8:16 am Denis said:
Let's not get sidetracked. This is about investments, not life insurance. However, many life insurance advisers will sell investments as a sideline. It is these advisers apply severe pressure to providers to increase commissions as investments cannot hope to compete with the remuneration possible from life insurance policies.

Increasingly, they are two separate things. I have life insurance with a specialist adviser. But would I rely on him to invest my life savings? Hell no. Nothing against him personally, but it would be like asking your dentist to perform a vasectomy while he's at it. Yes, medically qualified and professional - but you really want someone who does that all the time, every day.
On 22 December 2008 at 9:40 am WTF? said:
Thanks for pulling me up Red Dog Pirate, I shouldn't be having a go at Phil, though I would like to see more journalists in the media do so.

I agree with you totally, there are a lot of suckers out there for salesmen to leech off, but one the problem here in NZ is that the salesmen can legally here present themselves as professionals, and the punters don't know otherwise. Like anything, buyer beware.

ING Fan club, I'm really not sure if you're for real or not, I only hope you run your business with the same contempt for clients that you advocate, you will get your just desserts.
On 22 December 2008 at 9:54 am WTF? said:
Peanut H, I disagree completely, true professionals do put their clients interest first as you say, but how can you pretend to advocate that you do, when there are conflicts of interest on who pays you???
You can't claim to be a unbiased on investment advice when you are getting kickbacks from ING etc.

There are quality fund managers out there who are on fees only management, totally transparent, clear reporting, and don't pay or accept commission.
They are gaining more and more traction as people are becoming aware.
Unfortunately its still buyer beware though.
On 22 December 2008 at 11:57 am ING Fan Club said:
Here we go again. Nasty, horrible people taking pot shots at poor old ING. It's just so unfair. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Look ING have wined and dined you, taken you to golf and the footy. Given you lots of giveaways and all you can do now is whinge and moan when they have product failures like this.

Why should they have to stand behind their products unless they are forced to! None of the owners of Bridgecorp, National Finance, Western Bay, Five Star, Nathans, Provincial, Capital + Merchant etc. etc. stood behind their products so why should ING? It has only been Hanover and St. Laurence who have been stupid enough to actually volunteer to inject money or assets into their investments to try and make sure that investors get all their money back. More fool them I say doing that when they didnt have to. They could easily have just walked away and said it wasn't their responsibility. Heck, everyone makes the odd mistake. Look a Petricovic and Bryers. I'm sure they didn't start out planning to commit fraud - it just happened. It wasn't their fault was it. Sometimes these things just happen.

ING's Helen Troup is reported in the press as saying that ING have done nothing wrong but that they have no control how advisors sell ING's products. So it's not their problem at all - it's the fault of you dumb advisors who recommended these products to your clients.

ING want to remain in business so they deserve your support after all the years of looking after you. No more of this disloyalty please.

So come on, please join the fan club. If I can get just one more member ING will be able to claim that despite all the critiscism they are receiving at the moment, their fan club has grown by 100% and is therefore the fastest growing fan club in New Zealand.

Please guys. We need your support.
On 22 December 2008 at 12:50 pm Once were worriers said:
As a former product manager for an insurance company looking after superannuation products it is the due dilligence question that needs to be addressed by product manufacturers and advisers.

The business I worked for was pitched the ING funds as options for portfolios in our products. While the returns looked good I could never get my head around why RIF and DYF were thought so safe, it didn't even pass the intuitive test much less any due diligence in my opinion.

Having rejected RIF and DYF for our products a number of advisers approached both me and a colleague, despite our warnings they placed their client funds in harms way. The advisers were trying to do the right thing but were still decieved by what they were told - the problem here is that there needs to be a greater suspicion and less trust when making decisions and recommendations for others, every product manufacturer is trying to sell their book! Don't expect more of them than that.
On 22 December 2008 at 10:42 pm Peanut H said:
WTF is trying to convince me there are quality fund managers out there who only charge management fees, are totally transparent and don't pay or accept commissions. WTF's reality and mine must be residing on different planets. I recently read a report produced by a totally transparent fixed interest fund manager who only charges a 1% fund management fee. On closer examination the fund managers management fee is 3.43% of investment income. The trustees fee is 0.23% of investment income, the audit fee is 0.05% of investment income, operating expenses is 0.24% of investment income. Therefore the manager is taking 3.95% of the gross investment income before the investor gets their share. Yet this totally transparent fund manager is abiding by the current disclosure laws by implying there management fee is only 1%. The accounts also told me the accounts were produced to NZ IFRS standards. In my experience many of the fund manager experts employed to manage investor's money appear incapable of doing so. There is also no point in using a 100% fee for service fund manager who can't produce a reasonable and consistent inflation plus return. When reading or I dear say researching this fund manager I saw nothing in the information that really mattered: Information such as how likely is a poor outcome? how good or bad could performance be? As usual I was left to sift through pages of gobbledygook and expected to arrive at a meaningful outcome. How much easier it would be if the law stated the fund manager had to provide two mandatory figures 1; average expected before tax return over any rolling 3 year period. 2; Estimated 1 in 10 year worst case scenario. It won't happen, as more is probably spent by fund managers on making sure politicians don't allow the law to be changed than fund managers could ever spend on making sure advisers use their product.
On 23 December 2008 at 12:21 pm WTF? said:
Peanut H,
ha! nobody on this planet can predict future returns, yet alone 1 in 10 worst case scenarios because nobody can look into the future.
How can you estimate 1 in 10 year worst case scenarios? please. Those outdated pricing of risk models have got the markets into this mess in the first place.
I salute you for digging through to find the real expense of fund managers, and unfortunately most of the time you would be better off invested in index funds than them as the majority fund managers can't seem to beat the market on performance (after fees).
70% of them don't even make market returns.
However there are managers out there whose performance add more value to your portfolio than their fees as they out perform the market.
They sure as hell don't invest in insurance funds, use tax efficient srategies, and construct their own, non-unitised portfolios, with transparent reporting. You just have to keep looking, they exist.
P.s you should read Nicholas Taleb - Fooled by Randomness.
On 23 December 2008 at 9:48 pm Devastated said:
I note the directors of Nathan Finance have been charged by the Commerce Commission for misleading investors through statements made in their offer documents. I wonder how long before the directors of ING face the same fate.

"The commission believes Nathans' offer documents misled investors about the risks of investing in Nathans Finance.
On 23 December 2008 at 11:25 pm Peanut H said:
Congratulations to Securities Commission Chairwoman Jane Diplock for taking action against Nathans directors for telling porkpies in Nathans prospectus and investment statement. It is about time Jane followed Paula Redstock, Chairwoman of the Commerce Commission example and decided to do something about protecting the efficiency and integrity of our securities market. For a long time I thought the Securities Commission was a toothless possum gumming at the cabbage tree the rat bag finance company directors were hiding in. These rotten finance company directors have gotten away with far to much of honest investors money for far to long. I also imagine Bridgecorp investors will be pleased with Jane's Christmas present in bringing charges against the Bridegcorp rat pack. Lets hope our judiciary will show the miscreants they can't get away with it. This is also a powerful message to all directors of companies who raise capital from NZ investors.
On 2 January 2009 at 9:25 am Anthony said:
I have worked in the Finance Industry for the last twenty years and have worked for a couple of local banks in NZ, four global banks and even did a brief stint as a Mortgage Broker and a Financial Planner.
Having recently returned from the UK I am disappointed to see the number of finance companies that have got themselves in a spot of bother. The most alarming and obvious concern returning to New Zealand is the poor and minimal framework we have in a largely unregulated environment. For example, the number of people I have heard say 'My Adviser said this fund is safe as a term deposit' is incredible, why would an Adviser even make that comparison? How long does it take to become a certified Financial Adviser in NZ? Through one of Australasia's most respected Fund Managers it took me approx. 8 weeks to be a certified Adviser, and approx. 4 weeks to become a certified and accredited MBA Mortgage Broker, that's quite scarey. It's also disappointing to see so many people point the finger at the Fund Managers for the lack of poor fund performance when they should be looking at themselves and saying what could I have done better. NZ is unfortunately still naive and cowboyish in it's understanding and approach to Investments and Advice. It starts with improving our framework in which all parties strive to achieve the highest standards of education, accountability and transparency. Let's learn from our neighbours in Oz and from the FSA in the UK, some of their initiatives would be well received in NZ in the best interests of our Investors.
Finally does someone at Good Returns have a personal grudge against ING? If you've been watching this website's headlines for the past month you'll understand. I'm all for accurate reporting across all the financial services industry.
On 2 January 2009 at 12:07 pm Red Dog The Pirate Guy said:
I assume I will not be the only blogger watching with interest how ANZ are dealing with the issue of "Compensation" to investors in the Frozen Funds.
While I am prohibited through confidentiality in commenting any further,
I have found the correspondence most interesting.
When these funds were frozen,ING's NZ chief excecutive Marc Lieberman said "We don't believe peoples' money is in danger. "
I will be very interested to follow the outcome for those who ANZ has batted away,and who are going to the Ombudsman.
The emerging data base may well provide ammunition for an attack on advisors other than ANZ.
On 12 January 2009 at 11:09 am Paul Markham said:
Hi Red Dog and Anthony,

Judging by the large number of ANZ customers who have contacted us since we went public prior to Christmas, I suspect the Ombudsman is now seeing a big increase in complaints against ANZ (re.DYF/RIF).

One ANZ customer has produced a very interesting 'youtube' video clip on the previous 'Hanover vs ING' Blog. If you go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=30W3xDSviJc you can view it. Very clever but very accurate!

Some of the ANZ customers had already complained to ANZ re. DYF/RIF. The standard offer seems to be for ANZ to pay them out at the March 12th. 'frozen' price. Not great but a darned sight better than the 30-40 cents present price.

Anthony, I don't believe Good Returns has a grudge against ING at all. They are only reporting what is happening. Almost all the critiscism has been from advisors (and members of the public) via this (and other) Blogs.

I think you can probably understand peoples' frustration and anger when ING sold these products as being 'low-to-moderate' risk. They compared them in risk to their 'mortgage' and 'international fixed interest' funds. DYF/RIF have now fallen in value by 60-70% - not quite what you exepect from a 'low-to-moderate' risk fund is it?
On 14 January 2009 at 12:16 pm Paul Markham said:
Ouch! I see the unit prices for DYF and RIF are now down to 28c and 23c respectively (i.e. now down by 70-80%). Makes the 60-70% fall I mentioned above look quite respectable now.

Not a bad performance really for products which ING sold as 'low-to-modrate risk' funds!

I presume the other 'low-to-moderate risk funds that ING compared these 2 funds to (i.e. their 'Mortgage' and 'International Fixed Interest' funds) have also fallen by a similar amount? (Joke!)

Also, I hate to think what effect the significant costs for preparing their 'proposal' (which will no doubt be charged as an expense to these funds) will have on these unit prices. I understand the costs associated with the St. Laurence and Hanover proposals ranged between $1-3 million (with legal fees representing a big part of those costs). Great for the lawyers- further agony for DYF/RIF investors.

I supect ING/ANZ will receive further bad publicity about this over the coming weeks/months. I understand their FUM had dropped by $1 billion for the year ending 30/9/08. I suspect it has dropped further since (and will continue to do so as the bad publicity increases).

Meantime, our 'Action Group' are being contacted by a steady stream of very unhappy DYF/RIF investors (primarily ANZ customers). Several of these people are now starting to band together to form an 'Investor Action Group'.

Our group firmly believe that the only way that ING will be able to survive this public relations nightmare is for them to 'stand behind' these products and do a 'product recall' - just like any responsible product manufacturer would do.

They can't sell products as 'low-to-moderate' risk and then have them fall by 70-80% and still expect the public (and we advisors) to continue to have confidence and trust in them.
On 14 January 2009 at 12:31 pm Gary Osborne said:
ING has an appalling track record when it comes to handling questions about the various funds it manages. Characteristically it uses a process of procrastination and obfuscation.

In December 2007, after I had pulled the majority of my funds out of MFL -- the largest private superannuation fund in New Zealand at the time, managed by ING, I was told by T. Martin on 19/12/07, when I dared to criticise the management "I sent you an email with commentary from our funds managers about the sub-prime market and the credit crunch which is having a major effect to the financial markets at present. This is effecting the MFL fund as it invests in property trust -- this is the reason why the MFL fund unit price has dropped not poor management by ING." He added "I am sure you are aware that it is a great time to buy units while the market is low as it will return to normal over time (when the dust settles) and you will gain more from your investments -- all markets have ups and downs this is just part of the investment cycle."

The Unit Price for MFL on 19/12/07 was $2.2957. I watched it for the next month and indtead of buying more units I pulled out my remaining investment. What a good move!

I withdrew my balance at a Unit Price of $2.1095 and then had the compounded insult of having to pay tax on part of my investment as well. The tax shown on my withdrawal statement dated 14/2/08 was different from the tax shown on the PIE statement I later received on 10/7/08. I asked for an explanation of the discrepancy and was told it was "due to the 'Forward Pricing' model we use for our funds and is standard market practice amongst Fund Managers." It didn't answer the question. Two weeks of circumlocution advanced the matter no further.

The 2008 Annual Report came out a week before Christmas. I asked why the number of units X unit price did not equate to the members' funds.
Once again I have been stonewalled. There is a $74.4m difference.

31/8/07 Members Funds $724m
31/8/08 Members Funds $458m
26/9/08 Members Funds $330m (latest prospectus)

Yet 31/8/07 Unit Price $2.4926
31/8/08 Unit Price $1.8243
26/9/08 Unit Price $1.7995
24/11/08 Unit Price $1.3193

From Aug 07 to Aug 08 funds went down 36.7%, unit price went down 26.8%.
In one month Sep 08 funds went down 27.8% yet unit price went down 1.4%

How reliable is daily Unit Pricing?
On 14 January 2009 at 10:10 pm Anthony said:
Hi Paul

I absolutely feel for those Investors who have lost much of their original investment, some of those affected are my friends.

What i don't understand, maybe you do, is why were these funds also classified by two independent parties as 'low to moderate risk funds' ? being Standard Poors and Moodys.

And as per my original blog, why would an Adviser (IFA or ANZ) say to a client that these funds are as safe as a term deposit? where is the accountability?
It's a pretty naive or stupid thing to say to an Investor relying on the objective, informed and professional advice of their Adviser.

I have been away for a while but can an Investor not sue an Adviser in NZ for misleading them to buy a product that didn't fit the Investor's risk profile?
Does an Adviser's Professional Indemnity Insurance cover poor advice to a client?
Probably not as I imagine a few of my friends would be suing their Advisers claiming compensation for poor advice.

Also begs the question did the Advisers really understand what this product was?

Consequently was this fund sold incorrectly by the Adviser to their client? or was it pushed onto Investors by Advisers seeking a more attractive remuneration?
On 15 January 2009 at 2:01 pm Hopeful said:
Anthony the issue is ING NZ (part of a huge global network) determined that the RIF fund was "low to moderate risk" and it was described by ING NZ in marketing flyer as " a viable alternative to short term bank deposits and finance company debentures" The investment statement compares the returns from CDO's (which the fund invested into) to those of traditional interest rate securities, such as government and local authority stock and bank deposits. If this is not the case then shouldn't the expectation be that ING are held accountable and put right their mess?
On 15 January 2009 at 4:23 pm Anthony said:
Hopeful, agree with the expectation that ING be held accountable and I hope they do find the best solution for their Investors. Going back to my original notes, what about these independent rating agencies? what about the advice from Advisers? This is the minimal framework I refer to in our mostly unregulated market. How about joint accountability and responsibility to the Investor?
On 15 January 2009 at 5:34 pm Hopeful said:
Anthony the promoter (ING NZ) is responsible for the product and for keeping it within the parameters described.
On 28 January 2009 at 8:19 am Gary Osborne said:
CONTINUED DEMISE OF MFL FUNDS
Unit Price dropped to $1.3469 on 26/1/09
Consider an investment valued at $100,000 on 11/10/07
In 15 months this has dropped 48% to $51,644.93 before tax
The Unit Price is now less than it was TEN years ago
Unit Price 27/1/99 $1.35212482
On 29 January 2009 at 5:56 pm Jim Smith said:
What do people think about the 'changes' in ING management?
Commenting is closed

 

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ASB Bank 4.45 2.55 2.69 2.79
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China Construction Bank Special - 2.65 2.65 2.80
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Heartland 3.95 2.89 2.97 3.39
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Heretaunga Building Society 4.99 3.50 3.40 -
HSBC Premier 4.49 2.45 2.60 2.65
HSBC Premier LVR > 80% - - - -
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
HSBC Special - - - -
ICBC 3.69 2.45 2.65 2.79
Kainga Ora 4.43 2.93 3.07 3.24
Kainga Ora - First Home Buyer Special - 2.25 - -
Kiwibank 3.40 3.30 3.54 3.54
Kiwibank - Offset 3.40 - - -
Kiwibank Special 3.40 2.55 2.79 2.79
Liberty 5.69 - - -
Nelson Building Society 4.95 3.45 3.49 -
Pepper Essential 4.79 - - -
Resimac 3.39 3.35 2.99 3.35
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SBS Bank 4.54 3.05 2.99 2.99
SBS Bank Special - 2.55 2.49 2.49
The Co-operative Bank - First Home Special - 2.25 - -
The Co-operative Bank - First Home Special - - - -
The Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 4.40 2.55 2.69 2.79
The Co-operative Bank - Standard 4.40 3.05 3.19 3.29
TSB Bank 5.34 3.29 3.45 3.59
TSB Special 4.54 2.49 2.65 2.79
Wairarapa Building Society 4.99 3.55 3.49 -
Westpac 4.59 3.15 3.29 3.39
Westpac - Offset 4.59 - - -
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Westpac Special - 2.55 2.69 2.79
Median 4.55 2.93 2.99 2.80

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