Nicky Morgan pushes Woodford to waive £100k daily fee

Woodford faces less sympathy than when property funds gated in 2016

HL

Treasury select committee chair Nicky Morgan has joined calls for Woodford Investment Management to waive its fee on the gated Equity Income stating it is inappropriate for the fund to earn £100,000 daily when investors can’t access their investment.

The Conservative MP has also said the committee will question the Financial Conduct Authority and Bank of England about the “troubling episode” during evidence sessions already scheduled during the month of June.

Morgan (pictured) said: “Investors in the Woodford Fund have been locked out of accessing their cash. Yet it has been reported that Mr Woodford is taking in nearly £100,000 in management fees a day.

“The suspension of trading has provided Mr Woodford with some breathing room to fix his fund; he should afford his investors the same space and waive the fund’s fees while the fund is suspended.”

Hargreaves confirms Wealth 50 policy

Hargreaves Lansdown has dropped platform fees for its Woodford investors and called on the equities manager to do the same with his own charges while the fund is suspended.

The D2C platform confirmed it did not waive fees when property funds gated in the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Hargreaves head of communications Danny Cox said its fee waiver policy applies to funds on its Wealth 50 recommended funds list. That list, along with its predecessor, the Wealth 150, has never featured an open-ended property fund.

More sympathy for property funds

Chelsea Financial Services managing director Darius McDermott was surprised MPs were weighing in on the fund suspension and could not recall similar calls for property funds to waive fees three years ago.

However, McDermott said a “gesture” from Woodford would be appropriate.

“When the property funds suspended, due to the genuinely illiquid nature of the asset class, there was a little more sympathy and understanding. This is the first time a flagship UK equity fund has gated,” he said.

Aligning fund manager and investor interests

Waiving the fee would have a positive effect beyond Woodford, said Willis Owen head of personal investing Adrian Lowcock.

“This is about doing right by investors and therefore showing that the investment management industry is there for them,” Lowcock said. “The situation reflects badly on the industry as a whole and taking significant fees each day from investors who cannot sell, and therefore have no choice but to pay them, is wholly inappropriate given the circumstances.”

Such an action would align fund manager and investor interests more closely, he added.

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