A day in the life of a fund manager: the chairman emailed early yesterday with the pithy advice that something had gone on at Aberdeen. Since he is a card-carrying, kilt-swirling Scot, I presumed that in that northern city they had run out of IrnBru. I let the matter slip.
But when the butler brought in the decanter of single malt and a copy of the Evening Standard I finally twigged. For, as readers no doubt know, Lloyds Bank are withdrawing a startling £110bn of FUM from StandardLifeAberdeen (SLA). I call that money.
The problem with fund management is that it is getting costlier to practise (think MifidII – as considered below) and outperformance – surely the purpose of the exercise – is virtually impossible. The only hope is through achieving economies of scale. Therefore kissing goodbye to c. 20% of FUM must be a very considerable blow.
It gets worse. Yesterday, I read through the latest document from Alan and Gina Miller’s True and Fair campaign, which covered – all 35 pages – how MifidII is applied in practice. As readers know, I am no respecter of MifidII since the cost is outrageous, its drafting is absurd (because it lacks clarity) and it is riddled with the quite unacceptable presumption that Brussels knows best. However, it is clear that a lot of fund managers are behaving quite outrageously. They must be heading for litigation of one sort or another where they will lose and the costs will be appalling. This is not a happy prospect for the development of a business.
Finally, a few years ago, Murdoch piped up with the advice that the BBC is elitist or put another way was not infantile. Further, it was not difficult to wonder how the BBC would easily raise the licence fee. And so one toyed with the prospect of rather less of the BBC. But, as matters have now emerged, the dissolution of, say, BBC Radio 4 would be a national tragedy given that its production quality is so high. Indeed, I would cheerfully pay £500 p.a. for just Radio 4.
Yesterday evening on Radio 4 (11.00 p.m. to 11.30 p.m.) a Sarah Kendall told the story of teenage life in Australia. This was enthralling and astonishing. Wise readers can catch up. One does not often encounter quality such as this.