UK watchdog appoints funds critic to come up with fee disclosure format

The logo of the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is seen at the agency's headquarters in the Canary Wharf business district of London April 1, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s markets watchdog has asked an academic who accused the funds industry of being in “collective denial” over fees to come up with a common format for asset managers to publish their charges.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is scrutinising the 6 trillion pound sector to see how it can offer better value for money. Making it easier for investors to compare charges is one way of doing this.

“We want to see more consistent and standardised disclosure of costs and charges to institutional investors,” the FCA said on its website on Wednesday.

The watchdog said it has appointed Chris Sier, a professor at Newcastle University Business School, to chair a working group of industry and investor representatives to agree a template for fund managers to disclose their costs and charges.

“Dr Sier... is an expert in pension scheme costs and charges who has worked closely with the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) in developing their template for institutional disclosure,” the FCA said.

Sier is also the government’s “fintech” envoy for the north of England.

The new group will be assembled by Sier and will start meeting in September. It should agree on a template for “mainstream” asset managers by year end, the FCA said.

Sier told Reuters last year that the funds sector was in “collective denial” over fees.

“If the asset management industry thinks things are going to carry on the way they are, they are sad, they are wrong,” he said at the time, adding he had previously been threatened with lawsuits and had his phone tapped by an asset manager upset with his work.

Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Susan Fenton