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  • ClearGlass Analytics

The Need for ‘Real’ Fee Transparency in Equities

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

  • Ground-breaking analysis published by the research arm of independent data provider ClearGlass Analytics shows real, asset owner-specific fees differ greatly from those presented in the public domain.

  • The findings hold significant implications for future price competition in the market.

  • Subsequent reports covering more than 20 asset classes are expected to reveal the true extent of the price differential.

The availability of never-before-seen data has the potential to unlock a better functioning global active equities market by helping asset managers to price competitively – enabling them to compete on a level playing field for the very first time.

The first-of-its-kind analyst report from the research arm of ClearGlass Analytics, published today, has found that asset managers charging lower fees for global active equity funds generally deliver better value for money, and that the actual fees collected differ greatly from how funds are priced in the open market.

The report provides industry leaders with client-specific, deal-specific fee data collected via the Cost Transparency Initiative (CTI) framework. The data establishes broadly inverse correlation between fund performance and charges – demonstrating that high fees incurred by institutional investors do not necessarily translate to high performance.

The unprecedented scale and accuracy of the independently gathered data will give asset managers and owners a true picture of how the market is functioning, and support managers to price their services at the optimal level.

It comes after the FCA’s Asset Management Market Study found that UK asset owners, such as pension funds, are unable to determine the value for money derived from investments. By accessing this game-changing data, asset owners will effectively be able to benchmark whether they are being charged appropriately for the funds they hold.

ClearGlass Analytics is the only organisation collecting this data at scale, and the only one working with every consultancy in the UK. CTI data is markedly more accurate than publicly available information as it details the specific deals made between asset managers and asset owners.

The implications of the difference in fee levels from data collected from public sources versus those that are deal- and client-specific are profound, contributing to an inefficient and stagnant market. While the public picture is one of dynamic price competition, the lack of access to real data – until now – has in fact driven price inflation.

The research arm of ClearGlass Analytics has developed a proprietary database for global active equity funds, which served as the basis for this report. The database comprises 79 asset managers, with 139 pension scheme clients across a total of 616 mandates. Of those 79, the report identifies the top 20% of asset managers providing the best value for money for their clients in the asset class.

Three managers – Baillie Gifford, Majedie Asset Management and Wellington Management International – were awarded ‘Elite manager’ status as they ranked in the best quartile for both costs and performance. It is thought that the availability of fresh data will allow the best performing managers to differentiate themselves from the rest of the market.

The report is the first in a quarterly series to be published by ClearGlass Analytics, with each report to shine the spotlight on a different asset class. Upcoming reports will focus on areas including global active income, active high yield, and UK active equities. It is anticipated that these will also show publicly available price and cost data deviating from true market pricing.

The data reveals the true extent to which perceived costs differ from reality. Anyone basing their procurement, or subsequent value-for-money analyses, upon publicly available data will inevitably be wrong. The CTI template is therefore a game changer – providing a market-wide database that transcends any individual manager’s assessment framework will inevitably help support consultants, asset owners and asset managers to make the best decisions for the end investor. - Dr Christopher Sier, Research Director at ClearGlass Research

Transparency is an indispensable competitive advantage and asset owners are now better able to achieve value for money for their beneficiaries. The UK is leading in this space but the opportunity for the sector globally is huge. In a world of lower returns, costs become ever more important and the ability to demonstrate value for money on a consistent basis will drive fund flows to where it is best placed. Through transparency, the sector will be more competitive globally. - Professor Iain Clacher, Head of the Centre for Financial Technology and Innovation at the University of Leeds


ClearGlass Analytics’ proprietary data comprises data collected from asset managers on behalf of asset owners. The global active equities database contains data from 79 managers, serving 136 pension schemes and a total of 616 mandates.

Ongoing charges are the key cost variable, as they are negotiated by the manager and investor and are by far the largest component of total costs. Ongoing charges accounted for 80% of total costs (616 mandates, standard deviation of 25bps). Transaction costs make up the remaining 19% of total costs (616 mandates, standard deviation of 25bps). When we compared ClearGlass Analytics transaction cost data to public fund factsheet transaction cost data, we removed anti-dilution offsets (ADO) to make it comparable with the published data sources (which exclude ADO).

This report only investigates global active equities funds. Future reports will investigate whether these results are replicated in other equites fund markets as well as other asset classes. As these reports expose the opacity of fund markets, they will hopefully contribute to increasing transparency.

Media Contact

Brandon Bhatti, Hume Brophy

Tel: +44 7741 311824


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