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‘True to label’ warning again given to fund managers: ASIC

  • September 23 2020
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Invest

‘True to label’ warning again given to fund managers: ASIC

By Grace Ormsby
September 23 2020

Consumers should be wary: Fund managers aren’t doing enough to ensure products are “true to label”, with a number of product names not aligning with underlying assets in those funds.

ASIC

‘True to label’ warning again given to fund managers: ASIC

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  • September 23 2020
  • Share

Consumers should be wary: Fund managers aren’t doing enough to ensure products are “true to label”, with a number of product names not aligning with underlying assets in those funds.

ASIC

A statement from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) said recent surveillance had found fund managers “must do more” in ensuring product naming and labelling practices are accurate for consumers.

This is especially pertinent given that during times of market volatility, consumers may be looking for alternate investment options offering regular or higher returns, “and financial product labels are used as a guide for consumers about what they are investing in”, ASIC conceded.

Having examined the appropriateness of product labels used by 37 managed funds, ASIC deputy chair Karen Chester said two significant concerns were raised across a number of products: “First, confusing and inappropriate product labels across 14 ‘cash’ funds with under $7 billion in assets. And second, redemption features not matching the liquidity of underlying assets, with a significant mismatch in three funds with under $1 billion in assets.”

According to ASIC, out of the 22 managed funds that used the term “cash” in their labelling, 14 funds had “confusing or inappropriate labels”.

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It reported that some funds that were labelled as cash funds had asset holdings more akin to a bond or diversified fund, which have significantly higher risk and less liquidity compared with a traditional cash fund.

It flagged this as especially prominent in funds using words such as “cash enhanced” and “cash plus” in their labelling.

While the funds reviewed did generally display satisfactory of redemption features with liquidity, “significant mismatch” was seen in a small number of funds.

Ms Chester flagged that managed investment products “are not prudentially regulated or government-guaranteed, so it is paramount that consumers are not misled about the level of risk associated with a particular product”.

She said responsible entities must therefore ensure their products are “true to label”, stating that “this is not a nice-to-have”.

“It’s a must-have for responsible entities in meeting their legal obligations to their investors, especially in terms of market volatility.”

Explaining further, the deputy chair said inappropriate labelling of a fund can mislead investors into believing that the fund is much safer or more liquid than it actually is.

“Put simply, a fund should not use terms such as ‘cash’ or ‘cash enhanced’ unless its assets are predominantly in cash and cash equivalents.”

It comes after a warning to fund managers earlier this year that saw ASIC advise that consumers must only be given “clear, balanced and accurate information”.

At the time, the corporate regulator revealed it had put a number of managed investment schemes on notice

‘True to label’ warning again given to fund managers: ASIC
ASIC
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About the author

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Grace is a journalist on Momentum Media's nestegg. She enjoys being able to provide easy to digest information and practical tips for Australians with regard to their wealth, as well as having a platform on which to engage leading experts and commentators and leverage their insight.

About the author

Grace is a journalist on Momentum Media's nestegg. She enjoys being able to provide easy to digest information and practical tips for Australians with regard to their wealth, as well as having a platform on which to engage leading experts and commentators and leverage their insight.

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