Invesco Perpetual's head of UK retail Mike Webb has indirectly made his position clear in relation to...
He made the comment during the company's presentation in Newcastle yesterday - one of the stops in the company's two weeks of roadshows around the country for audiences of intermediaries - while presenting Invesco Perpetual's outlook for the year.
Calling 2001 a "hell of a year", Webb nevertheless added that recently improved performance by particular Invesco trusts and its own reading of opportunities through the rest of 2002 meant there was still plenty to play for.
Breaking down the proposed changes that de-polarisation would bring about, he said there would be an increasing separation between manufacturing and distributing products.
This would be coupled with an increasing amount of margin pressure and a need to improve operational efficiency.
This would lead Invesco towards a wholesaler role supporting third party distributors.
The big fear he had about de-polarisation as proposed by the FSA on Monday was the apparent removal of restrictions on self-investment, which could lead to incentives that the customer did not see and a "potential for abuse".
There were also other resons to expect further changes, he said, such as ripples from the Sandler review: "Ron Sandler is a free marketeer."
Regardless of the debate now opening up, the key driver of change would not go away, he added, which was that the government wanted more advice made available to a greater number of people.
Commenting on the performance of the Henley-based operations, Webb added that Invesco wanted to encourage them to "continue doing what they are doing".
"Invesco is an active fund management group," he said.
Commenting on the opportunities seen by the group, Invesco's chief investment officer Bob Yerbury pointed out that the past two years of declining share prices marked the longest period of decline since the mid-1970s, and the earnings decline in corporate America were the worst ever recorded.
The difference this time is that the decline is not being matched with a massive banking crisis - Japan excepted.
Yerbury was still bearish on US equities, however, pointing out that prices for stocks were still historically very high given expectations of more bad earnings news to come.
Japan was to be avoided because of a continuing political message that the government would not be prepared to implement the reforms needed until a major banking crisis appeared there.
Asia excluding Japan looked better, as did the UK, which now seemed to have moved beyond the historical pattern of boom and bust that so marked the past century.
Noting that all Henley UK funds outperformed the FTSE 100 last year, Stephen Whittaker, manager of the company's UK Growth Fund, added the UK would remain a good place to invest because household and government spending would hold up but inflation would be kept in check by a collapse in capital spending related to the manufacturing sector.
And unlike the US, average UK prices of stocks were relatively low if the technology, media and telecommunications sectors were stripped out of the major indices.
Yergury said the current global economic outlook also left fixed income investments looking good.
Paul Causer, manager of the Monthly Income Plus Fund, said 2001 was a strange year as several blue-chips such as Marconi, BA and Railtrack went from corporate ratings to junk-bond status.
However, extremely low inflation this year would set corporate bonds up for another year of good performance.
With inflation below 1% on average across the G7, equity yields would be pressed, while those choosing between government and corporate bonds would see the latter yield better returns.
A and BBB rated corporate bonds should outperform government paper quite easily he added.
Using the example of BT, Causer said that debt and other issues would weigh down the company's share price, but the long-term bond yield was about 7%.
And in the case of Colt Telecom, there were bonds maturing in 2007 that yielded more than 13%.
In related news, Invesco has announced that it would be offering investors opening an ISA account in cash the possibility of "drip feeding" the money monthly into a choice of funds over 3, 6 and 12-month periods.
The Phased Investment Option would allow investors more time to decide when to commit their money to equities, and the product should be available from 5 February.
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