Research in Finance (RiF) was delighted to welcome representatives from 17 asset managers to a roundtable event kindly hosted by Janus Henderson Investors earlier this month, to discuss the imminent implementation of the UK’s Consumer Duty. All groups in attendance were syndicate members of RiF’s Retail Consumer Interests (RCI) study, which researches the investment motivations of British end investors and has been running since 2013.
In light of the Consumer Duty requirement that asset managers prove their products and communications are understood by retail clients, the 2023 wave of RCI has focussed on related best practice. This has given syndicate members the opportunity to test materials with investors of varied experience and then receive candid feedback on their effectiveness and suitability.
The session made for an excellent forum to hear about the varied approaches taken by the syndicate members to prepare for Consumer Duty. Attendees included representatives from Allianz Global Investors, Artemis, Aviva Investors, AXA Investment Managers, BlackRock, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, Janus Henderson Investors, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Jupiter Asset Management, Liontrust, Neuberger Berman, Ninety One, PIMCO, Premier Miton Investors, Royal London Asset Management, Schroders, and T. Rowe Price. Despite a consensus that the new regulation has posed many challenges, attendees expressed a sense of positivity and readiness for the implementation deadline. The latest phase of testing conducted by RiF has revealed the suitability of materials to be generally good already, reflecting the participating firms’ deep experience of investor needs and communications. Now the goal is to set and meet a gold standard to satisfy Consumer Duty obligations.
RCI syndicate members have found the ability to test materials ahead of July’s deadline to be highly valuable, providing a core pillar in their efforts to gauge and ensure consumer understanding. However, they also recognise that the hard work is far from over, given the need for continuous monitoring of their client communications. In response to this demand, RiF has announced the launch of its Communications Compass, a community testing service open to all asset managers. Communications Compass allows for both testing and re-testing of specific materials, resulting in a templated report card that reveals a variety of overall indicators, anonymised competitor positioning, suggested improvements, and more. Meanwhile, the 2024 wave of RCI will pivot to a new thematic focus, complementing its ongoing research on drivers of retail investment in the UK.