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Money Managers comments damage industry: ASCB

Tuesday 4th November 2003

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Money Managers has had a severe reprimand from the Advertising Standards Complaints Board for slagging off one of its competitors on Radio Pacific.

During Money Managers regular one-hour advertorial slot on Sunday radio on July 13 franchise director Alan Anderson was highly critical of Fisher Funds Management.

Fisher Funds boss Carmel Fisher said in her complaint that comments made by Anderson were "subjective and clearly untrue."

She also complained that Fisher Funds did not have the opportunity to refute these untrue statements, and therefore listeners will be left with an inaccurate and biased view of the merits of Fisher Funds."

In the programme Anderson was critical of some of the stocks Fisher Funds had bought and suggested to listeners that they should avoid managers with short-track records and stick to those who have been around longer.

"If I were you I'd look to a fund manager here in New Zealand who has a strong long-term performance within the Australasian equity markets, and there is no better fund manager in that area than New Zealand Funds and it is actually who we use."

Fisher Funds general manager Glenn Ashwell said, in his submission to the board, that it was hard for NZ Funds to prove this point as it does not report to any of the independent research houses, and therefore investors couldn't compare the performance of the two funds.

On the subject of performance he pointed out that the fund had annual compound return of 8.2% net of fees and tax over three years, it was the second best performing fund over that period and had five star rating from research house FundSource.

Anderson suggested on the show that Fisher Funds had taken a bath on Advantage shares, however Fisher pointed out that the fund "has never owned shares in Advantage."

The board, in its written decision, was critical of Money Managers boss Doug Somers-Edgar as he refused to participate in the hearing and because he suggested the transcript of the programme Fisher had provided was incorrect.

The board said his comments were "derogatory" of Fisher, and "such comments were totally unwarranted".

It went on to say that this type of advertising "was not a socially responsible way for a (sic) investment manager to advertise".

"It not only unfairly denigrated a competitor's product, but was also damaging to the funds management industry as a whole."

The complaint was upheld.

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