According to a Fin24 story this morning, the FSB is probing smaller unit trusts.
The economics of a fund manager depends entirely on growing funds under management so that revenues (based on assets under management) grow to be larger than costs (significantly fixed and at most semi-variable). Details of performance fees and the second order impact of investment performance aside, a successful fund manager must attract positive net client cashflow, and lots of it.
Half the 960 available unit trusts have less than R100m in AUM. Some of these may be rapidly growing new funds, but many have been stagnant with slow growth for several years.
The FSB’s attention presents opportunities for consolidation between funds and should place larger funds in a stronger position competitively. Total Expense Ratios (TER) for these funds with significant scale should already be lower than smaller funds. Maybe it’s time the larger funds made more if their size and cost efficiencies. If they are going to take the heat for being too large to be nimble, they might as well reap the benefits too.
It will be interesting to see what this means for white labelled funds and whether the economics of these convince the regulator that they should survive.
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