Thursday, 19 September, 2019

Shares in top United Kingdom financial adviser fall after Woodford suspension

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Russell Knight | 11 June, 2019, 18:15

Woodford said late on Monday it had suspended trading in the flagship 3.7 billion pound ($4.70 billion) fund after an increase in client demand to take their money back.

Mr Woodford stopped money going in or out of his Woodford Equity Income Fund after increasing numbers of investors asked for their money back.

On the goal of the suspension, the FCA says its rules provide for suspension in dealing in the units of open-ended funds where, due to exceptional circumstances, it is necessary to protect all the investors in a fund.

The situation is having an impact on firms close to Woodford and has focused attention on the regulator.

In the three-minute clip Mr Woodford said he was "extremely sorry that we've had to take this decision", adding: "When it is appropriate we will open the fund so that you can buy and sell as normal".

Mr Woodford was responsible for the firm's UK High Income Unit Trust, UK Equity, Income Distribution and SJPI UK High Income funds, the paper said.

In a statement, the FCA said: "The FCA has been in discussions with (the company) regarding the circumstances around the listing of certain of the fund's assets on (Guernsey's) exchange".

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Hargreaves Lansdown has been a strong supporter of Woodford through the inclusion of his Income Fund on its "Wealth 50" list of favourite funds - an honour only rescinded on Monday.

Dealing in the Woodford Equity Income Fund has been suspended in the "best interests" of investors in the fund.

"Events such as this are rare, but it is a reminder to all of the risks that come with investing in illiquid assets while offering daily liquidity to investors", said Ryan Hughes, head of active portfolios at AJ Bell Plc.

The suspension will be reviewed at least every 28 days, and the Financial Conduct Authority will be informed of the reviews, Woodford said in a Q&A document for clients on its website.

I mentioned this today because of the amount of press it's getting, but ultimately it's just about a fund manager who's had some bad performance - and that happens to everyone because no-one wins ALL of the time. The firm is now under fire for continuing to recommend the Woodford fund, despite its weakening performance. "Neil has the time and space to deliver on his strategy to place the unquoted parts of the portfolio with interested buyers", it said.

The fund's only known Irish constituent is life sciences investment firm Malin Woodford Investment Management owns nearly 23pc of Malin, but the stake accounts for just 0.97pc of the fund's total value.

The Bank governor said two-thirds of investment funds with structural mismatches were domiciled in the U.S. and Europe. "How long it takes to reach that point is hard to estimate – it certainly won’t be days from now". The suspension is likely to result in further outflow requests once the fund reopens, putting more pressure on Woodford.

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