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Investors pay £410m in fees for serial underachieving funds

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Nearly £44bn of cash is tied up in underachieving funds, with investors paying £410m in fees and costs despite their poor performance.

The bi-annual ‘name and shame’ Spot the Dog report from platform Bestinvest reveals there are 91 underachieving funds, up from the 59 six months ago.

The former Woodford Equity Income fund topped the table, reporting -46% returns over a three-year period. Bestinvest first raised the alarm bell on the fund last year, just months before it was suspended, trapping investors.

Fund giant Invesco continued to hog the list with £13bn of assets in 11 ‘dog funds’. Bestinvest said its UK funds dragged down performance, along with four European funds, a US fund and Japanese fund.

JP Morgan came in second place due to the underperformance of its £3.8bn JPM US Equity Income fund.

To be included in the report, funds must have delivered a worse return than the market for three consecutive 12-month periods (2017-2019) and must have underperformed that market by more than 5% after fees, over the entire three-year period.

Bestinvest said the level of assets held in dog funds has increased significantly since last summer, with funds totalling £43.9bn, up from £32.6bn.  There are 11 fund giants included in the list, holding over £1bn of investors’ cash.

On the flip side, a host of big-name fund houses avoided the list including: Aviva Investors, Baillie Gifford, BMO, Evenlode, First State, Fundsmith, Investec, Lindsell Train, Kames Capital, Legal & General, Royal London and Stewart Investors.

Jason Hollands, managing director at Bestinvest, said: “2019 was overall a fantastic year for stock markets across the globe, providing investors with double-digit returns. In such an environment it is all too easy to assume that the managers of your investment funds must be doing a great job.

“However, in many cases the returns enjoyed have had little do with the decisions taken by fund managers and they may be substantially lower than the gains delivered by overall markets. In these circumstances, investors have basically paid fees for little or no added value.

“It is really important, therefore, to regularly review the funds you hold and to assess their performance against the market backdrop. Where a fund has significantly underperformed, it is vital to delve deeper into the reasons why and consider whether or not to stick with it or move elsewhere.

“If you haven’t given your investments the equivalent of an MOT for some time, it really does make sense to do so.”

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