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Living will warning from fund managers

THE asset management industry has warned regulators not to force it to make so-called living wills, which are being introduced to protect taxpayers from future excesses in the banking sector.

Living wills provide a blueprint of how a financial services company can be wound down while preserving key services.

They are designed to prevent taxpayers again being forced to prop up failing institutions and stop the financial system grinding to a halt.

Experts say banks are already spending millions of pounds revamping their businesses so services such as the payment system can continue and customer deposits are largely protected even if other parts are allowed to collapse.

But living wills could be an expensive burden on Scotland's large fund management sector, where firms such as Standard Life Investments and Aberdeen Asset Management oversee £750 billion of client funds and employ some 4000 people.

Irving Henry, prudential specialist at trade body the Investment Management Association (IMA), said: "Fund managers do not hold client assets and already have adequate wind-down arrangements. Unlike the banks, no asset manager failed as a result of the 2008 crisis nor did any require government support. There is no justification for including fund managers in this regime."

The IMA has told the Financial Stability Board (led by future Bank of England Governor Mark Carney), which oversees global rules, that it welcomes efforts to bring in resolution plans but has warned it not to include the funds industry.

Unlike institutions such as banks, fund management firms keep client money separate from their own assets. This should mean that if the fund manager fails client assets are protected.

Catrin Thomas, financial services partner with accountant PwC in Edinburgh, said asset managers have already had to cope with a slew of new rules and have seen regulators clamp down on perceived failings, particularly in regards to investors' assets.

In September, BlackRock was fined £9.5 million by the Financial Services Authority for failing to adequately protect client money.

Regulators are concerned clients receive their money back quickly if a fund manager collapses.

From October, asset managers have had to provide packs for use by insolvency practitioners in the event they run into trouble. These set out key information such the outsourcing firms and bank accounts.

Ms Thomas said: "The asset management industry is seeing a huge amount of regulation being put upon it. Much of it is a backlash from the financial crisis."

Many fund management companies not only have to cope with domestic rule changes but comply with new regulations in key markets such as the United States, Ms Thomas added.

Industry reforms are being pursued after the financial crisis, when Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley were nationalised while Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group, owner of Bank of Scotland, received £66 billion of capital injections from the taxpayer.

Contextual targeting label: 
Finance

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