Private eye on your assets

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The Independent Online
New year is the traditional time for taking stock and evaluating past performance, and reorganising for a better year.

Now serious private investors can subscribe to a quarterly tracking service that not only sets out how a portfolio has performed but also tries to analyse why and how it has deviated from a standard mix of investments.

The Quarterly Performance Audit Service (QPAS) is being launched this month by Cantrade Investments, a discretionary fund manager wholly owned by UBS. It takes on only clients with a minimum of £500,000.

The deputy managing director, Robert Brown, said: "This is not an exercise to bring us potential clients. We don't have any unit trusts. We are spending our marketing budget on this rather than on advertisements. We hope it will be self-financing in the long term."

Independent readers can subscribe to the service at a special reduced rate of £48 plus VAT per quarter instead of £54 a quarter, with a minimum subscription of one year.

First, you have to fill in a simple form that lists the value of your holdings in just three categories - UK equities, overseas equities and defensive assets.The last includes gilts, index-linked gilts, bonds and cash. However, individual holdings do nothave to be listed.

What you will receive is a report that compares your individual portfolio performance to a standardised private client portfolio - the Cantrade Calculator. This is composed of 50 per cent UK equities, 30 per cent defensive assets and 20 per cent overseasequities.

It assesses the performance of the three sectors of the portfolio individually against the indices, charts the proportions of the three sorts of assets, and sees how the mix has changed over the year.

Mr Brown explained: "The biggest change is that people will have to go from thinking of the individual stocks to thinking in aggregate.

"People can make an unintended policy move by getting enthusiastic about a handful of shares, which leads them to increase the proportion of their portfolio in equities."

The calculator can even identify whether any outperformance or underperformance is a result of stock selection or of strategic policy, by comparing the assets at the beginning of the year with how they would have fared with the performance of the changedportfolio. This is a new approach for private clients, although it has been operated for some time by institutions.

Mr Brown said he expected most people who subscribed to the service would use it to help them with their own decision-making.

But there would be nothing to stop them using it as a check on their fund managers.

q To take up the discount offer write to Cantrade and mention this article. Cantrade, 125 High Holborn, London WC1V 5PY.