Fund managers retain only 41 percent of total cost paid by retail investors

News Team, 17/09/2021

Fund managers retain only 41 percent of the total cost paid by retail investors, according the latest findings from EFAMA’s Market Insights.

The report, titled “Perspective on the costs of UCITS”, breaks down the costs of UCITS. It focuses on the fees charged for the different services provided along the investment fund value chain, distinguishing between the product cost for which fund managers are directly responsible, and the total cost of ownership borne by consumers. It also factors in the costs of distribution and advice.

It revealed that, on average, 41 percent of the fee charged by UCITS cover the expenses incurred by fund management companies in the area of product development and investment management.

A slightly lower proportion of the cost of ownership (38 percent) is paid to distributors in compensation for the provision of advice and for acting as the intermediary for retail investors. There are cases where it is less than a third as well as cases where it is more than half of the total cost.

The remaining 21 percent covers administration services, depositary, taxes and other expenses.

EFAMA also outlined that the average cost of ownership of actively managed cross-border UCITS offered to retail investors is currently 1.68 percent, however this differs according to UCITS type. The costs are higher for equity funds (1.96 percent) than multi-asset funds (1.76 percent) and bond funds (1.34 percent). The annual average product cost – one element of the cost of ownership – of an actively managed retail UCITS is 1.04 percent.

Meanwhile, index-tracking UCITS have, on average, lower costs than actively managed funds because tracking an index implies lower intervention by the fund manager. However, through retrocessions, distributors of index-tracking UCITS are paid the same percentage of the cost of ownership as from offering actively managed UCITS (38 percent).

The report also studied the returns on investments over long-term periods. An investment of €1,000 made at the end of 2009, in equal proportions through an actively managed retail equity UCITS and an index-tracking equity UCITS has led to an average net value of EUR 2,530 after ten years. To benefit from this performance, the investor would only have paid EUR 76 to the fund management company, EUR 76 to the distributor and EUR43 to the other service providers, over ten years.

Commenting on the results, Bernard Delbecque, EFAMA senior director for economics and research said: “This report offers some insightful and relevant perspectives on the breakdown of costs between the main providers of services in the UCITS market. The fact that fund managers only retain on average 41 percent of the total cost paid by retail investors means that the largest part of the cost of UCITS borne by investors is used to finance fund administration, depositary and other services, taxes, distribution and advice.”

Tanguy van de Werve, EFAMA Director General added: “This report also shows that investment funds for which the costs of distribution and advice are bundled in the fee paid to fund managers are not necessarily more expensive than funds for which such costs are externalised. We therefore advise the Commission to exercise caution when considering possible changes to the existing EU distribution models and stress the necessity for a holistic assessment of all considered options.”

The report has utilised data from Fitz Partners, a fund research company that specialises in the calculation of fees and expenses of cross-border funds domiciled in Luxembourg and Ireland. The report only covers funds whose distribution and advice costs are bundled in the fee paid by retail investors to fund managers before being retroceded to the fund distributors.

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