Having concluded that the existing KIDs are not fit for purpose, with which I totally agree, the FCA are consulting on the “Future Disclosure Framework” for investments, i.e. what investors should be told before they splash their money out. You might think this would be a relatively simply matter to define but it is not – or at least the FCA wishes to make it complex as usual.
You can read their consultation document which they recently published here: https://www.fca.org.uk/publication/discussion/dp22-6.pdf
I have submitted a response which you can also read here: https://www.roliscon.com/Future-Disclosure-Consultation-Response.pdf
One particular point to note is that they fall into the common trap of suggesting the riskiness of an investment can be simply measured by the volatility of the share price. This is nonsense. Warren Buffett has said that stocks are more volatile than cash or bonds, but they’re safer to own in the long run, and he is quite right. The riskiness of an investment is a function of many other factors than price volatility. Major risks are the trustworthiness of the investment manager – the case of Revolution Beauty is discussed below as an example of what investors would have liked to know before they purchased the shares.
The shares in Revolution Beauty (REVB) were suspended in September 2022 after the auditors raised concerns. On Friday (13/1/2023) all the bad news was revealed.
One of the issues is that larger than normal sales were booked to three distributors in the last month of the financial year. Payment for these orders was delayed. Two of the distributors returned some of the stock at a later date. This is a classic example of “channel stuffing” to improve a company’s financial reports. This is a very well known method of improving a company’s financial figures and is a fraud on investors. It’s a clear example of orders being booked in the expectation that they would never be delivered but reversed out in the next financial period.
There were also personal loans from two of the directors to the distributors or their affiliates and also loans made to some of the non-exec directors and senior managers which were not disclosed to the board.
We wait to see what action is taken against the directors who orchestrated this conspiracy but I suspect it won’t be as severe as I would like to see.
Slater Growth Fund
I have been monitoring the performance reports of other investors last year to see who did worse than me. Another recent example reported is that of the Slater Growth Fund run by Mark Slater. He is usually a sound manager – performance of +23% in the last five years well ahead of the relevant index and that includes a negative 25.5% last year. Last year was definitely not a good year for “growth” funds and my portfolio was certainly focussed on growth companies at the start of 2022. Similar problems were faced by the Fundsmith Equity Fund and the CFP SDL Buffettology Fund.
But as an individual investor I could quickly exit some of my holdings when I saw the way the wind was blowing while fund managers would have had more difficulty in moving rapidly as a few large sales would have depressed the share prices of companies they were selling. The other issue is that open-ended fund managers may have to sell holdings to meet redemption requests when investors want to withdraw their money which many did as gloom spread through markets. This is why I prefer closed-end investment trusts to open-ended funds – the former managers can make their own decisions about whether it is a good time to sell or hold on.
Roger Lawson (Twitter: https://twitter.com/RogerWLawson )
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