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Funds rush to ensure compliance as regulators sharpen knives

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UK fund managers have called in legal assistance to ensure rigorous regulatory compliance, as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) turns its attention to the sector.

Fund managers are responding to the announcement that the FCA plans to launch a review of the UK fund industry (most recently valued at £5.4tn), to determine whether investors are receiving value for money.

“We’re seeing a greater number of instructions from asset managers who want to know how they can ensure they meet ongoing regulatory obligations,” David Hughes, partner at law firm Dechert, said.

“Since the FCA’s announcement, we are helping client to review systems related to insider dealing, conflicts policies, money laundering and making sure they are selling products appropriately and treating customers fairly.”

Fund managers are also, according to Julie Patterson of KPMG, preparing for future rules that may hold executives and senior staff responsible for any wrongdoing perpetrated by their subordinates. As of next year, UK bank executives will be subject to the Senior Managers Regime (SMR) – a stringent new set of regulations designed to improve accountability at the highest echelons of the industry. At present, the conduct of fund managers remains governed by the Approved Persons regime; an extension of the SMR to cover the funds industry (or an analogous raft of principles) could soon follow.

“The investment management industry is in the regulatory spotlight on many fronts. It must pay close attention to the types of concerns raised by regulators about other sectors,” Patterson said. “Funds should watch the overhaul of the banking sector closely, and prepare for cross-over. Expect moves designed to prevent funds from becoming ‘too big to fail’ in future.”

“I think most firms run a very good business,” said Maarten Slendebroek, chief executive of Jupiter Fund Management, “but of course, I’m sure there are bad boys who could do with more oversight.”

Some have already felt the smack of a tougher regulatory approach. Last year, State Street UK was fined £23m for overcharging clients in January; Invesco Perpetual compensated clients who had been unsuspectingly exposed to increased risk a cumulative £18.6m. Last month, as reported by Your Money, Aviva Investors paid out almost £150m in fines and compensation after the FCA found the insurance giant’s asset management arm had failed to prevent conflicts of interest.


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