David Prosser: Fidelity hasn't proved case for loyalty

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The Independent Online

In other words, half your money will no longer be looked after by Bolton. Instead, you will have to trust Jorma Korhonen, a Finnish investment manager who Fidelity has plucked from obscurity to run the new fund. Many investors may be tempted to sell out of Global Special Situations once it's up and running.

There are arguments for giving Korhonen a chance. According to figures from Bestinvest, the independent investment adviser, the funds he has managed for Fidelity over the past four years have all beaten their benchmarks comfortably. Bolton himself has no plans to withdraw any of his own stake in Special Situations once Korhonen takes over the global half of the mandate. And yet, it's difficult not to be nervous about Fidelity Global Special Situations. Korhonen currently runs two funds, jointly worth around £120m. His new brief is to manage £3bn of assets, a huge step up. He'll also have to cope with very public pressure to perform, a challenge he has never faced before.

It's up to Fidelity to prove the case for investors to stay put - on balance, it has not done so, since there are alternative funds that do have the decent track record that Korhonen lacks.

Also, by staying with Fidelity you're agreeing to half your money being moved into a fund with a global investment brief - Bolton's fund is UK-focused. That may not suit your overall asset allocation strategy.

One final thought. Many investors will want to transfer their holding in the new fund back into Special Situations, either to retain UK exposure, or to stick with Bolton. Fidelity says it will charge investors who do that the same 5.25 per cent initial fee as new investors pay. That's a little cheeky.

n n n Good on the Financial Services Authority for asking mortgage lenders to prove that they have not broken consumer law by raising the exit fees borrowers pay when repaying their loans or switching to a new lender.

Too many lenders have offered cheap upfront interest rates in order to win business, but then clawed back the money by increasing charges such as exit fees. Now the FSA has warned lenders that they may not have the legal right to raise exit fees without consent unless they can show a valid reason for the increase. That will be difficult. These charges are to cover costs incurred by lenders when you cash in a loan - Land Registry fees for changing the registration of a property, for example - but these have barely risen in recent times.

Alliance & Leicester and Northern Rock have some of the highest exit charges, but at least both lenders promise new customers the fees will not rise over the term of their loans. Hopefully, the FSA will now force other mortgage companies to make the same pledge.

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