FINANCE NEWS: Fund manager satisfaction drops

Mathew Little

The level of satisfaction with charity investment managers is declining, according to figures released by the Charity Fund Partnership.

A survey of 170 charities with £12 billion invested found a service satisfaction rating of 0.72 on a scale where 2 is excellent and minus 2 is poor.

This compares with a score of 1 in the same survey last year.

A quarter of respondents said that overall service satisfaction with their fund manager was excellent, while 52 per cent found it good, 19 per cent fair and 5 per cent poor.

The figures appear in the Charity Fund Partnership's 2003 survey of charitable, educational, endowment and other funds.

Though the survey did not judge firms on their financial performance, the extended fall in the value of investments during 2002 may be a factor in the falling levels of satisfaction. The total return of charity investment funds fell by around 17 per cent last year, according to the WM Company.

Kevin Sims, managing director of the Charity Fund Partnership, said: "Poor overall investment performance probably contributed to a general marking down of satisfaction levels. This said, based on the level of responses, some firms appear to have held up better than others in terms of perceived service delivery."

HSBC's fund management arm posted the most dramatic results, leading the group of the 13 largest charity fund managers with a score of 1.17.

In last year's survey, the company was bottom of the poll with a rating of 0.13.

Last year's leading firm Gerrard has now slipped to mid-table. It received a rating of 0.81 compared with 1.56 in the 2002 survey.

"The number of clients responding to the research for some of these firms is small in relation to the whole client bases," said Sims.

"Nevertheless, there are higher ratings for overall service satisfaction from Cazenove, HSBC and JPMorgan Fleming. On the other hand, satisfaction ratings for Gerrard, Merrill Lynch and particularly Schroders appears to have declined more than average."

Schroders is well adrift at the bottom of the table and the only firm to post a negative rating.

The survey also asked charities to rate their investment manager's performance in terms of attributes such as speed of service, accuracy, provision of clear and useful information, proactivity and innovation of staff.

Eighteen per cent of charities rated their fund manager's proactivity as excellent, 42 per cent good and 29 per cent fair. Just 9 per cent said their manager's record for innovation was excellent, 45 per cent said it was good and 43 per cent fair.

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