Swedish funds association seeking to spread knowledge

If 2011 was a year of implementing new regulations, 2012 is much more a year of responding to investor needs for better and more transparent information about products and providers, according to Pia Nilsson, chief executive of Fondbolagens förening (FF).

She says the organisation is also developing responses to the cross-border opportunities opened up by the combination of Ucits and domestic fiscal policy changes introduced at the start of the year, as well as looking to broaden membership to asset managers more generally, not just those companies manufacturing funds.

The EU’s harmonisation objectives and the impact this could have on fund sales across borders is also tempting FF to consider developing roadshows abroad to highlight the capabilities of domestic fund managers and management companies in areas such as Swedish Equity and Swedish Small Cap, Nilsson (pictured) says.

The introduction of the investment savings account, investeringssparkonto, to the Swedish investor palette in January 2012 has been interesting from a tax-efficiency perspective.

What is less certain is how it is going to either improve competition more broadly in the market, or affect smaller fund manufacturers in particular, Nilsson adds. Smaller companies are already struggling with an industry trend that is seeing fewer direct sales in favour of those via distributors. This, in turn, can have consequences, such as fewer direct contacts with customers, which can then affect new product development.

The question around to what extent product manufacturing is the preserve of fund companies, while distribution may lie with others, is being considered at FF’s annual meeting on 24 May this year, Nilsson says.

However, currently it is retail investor knowledge – or lack if it – that dominates FF’s agenda. This is partly because of pressure on the industry from Peter Norman, Sweden’s minister for Financial Markets, over costs and fees, and because last year’s groundwork for further implementation of Ucits is becoming a reality with the implementation of key investor information documents (KIIDs) and the subsequent discussion around packaged retail investment products (PRIPs).

Investor knowledge is firmly on the agenda because of the use of KIIDs, Nilsson says. The association is matching this source of knowledge with programmes of its own, such as Fondkollen, which investors have access to via FF’s website, an App, and printed material.

So far, it is focused on data and information around funds available through Sweden’s PPM platform for long-term retirement savings, but the technologies involved are likely to be used for providing more information on other funds in future, Nilsson says.

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