Stop launching new investment funds!

More often than not, a good proportion of the news that fills my inbox tends to relate to new fund launches. This situation becomes much worse around this time of year, when there is a stronger demand for ISAs. But does it make the world a better place? I am not convinced. In the twenty years that I have been dealing with investments, I have to admit that I have never sat down and thought “oh no, what a shame there aren’t more funds to choose from”.

I understand that as a fund management group grows, it tends to focus on extending the range of funds, so that there are offerings which will suit different market conditions, will appeal to most investors and will gain the valuable commodity known as “funds under management”. But is it right to continually keep launching products?

I believe many fund management groups ignore the risk of constant reinvention and the following are five points I wish to make to them:

1. You will be better regarded, by advisers and investors alike, if you all your offerings are best of breed. For example four great funds out of a total offering of four is far better than six great funds out of a total of fifteen funds.

2. One of the worst traits is when you launch ‘me too’ products. It smells of desperation.

3. Remember that one bad fund has the capacity to damage the whole fund range for years to come.

4. Consistency is so important, whether it be investment objective, fund manager and team, or the process. If it works, protect and preserve it.

5. ‘Brand stretch’ is not a phrase I use frequently, but if an investment house has a strength, a unique point that makes them specialists in their field, why on earth move into another area where the talent is not there. It would seem destined for failure.

There are rare occasions when a new fund launch is necessary, for example there is currently a major focus on the cost of a product and therefore I understand that the odd new fund launch might be necessary, but not as an everyday occurrence.

Fund management groups need to understand that they are dealing with money that people have worked extremely hard to save and invest. It is a responsibility that should not be treated lightly.

Focus on what you do best. Please.