Sorry to ‘bore on’ about this but it’s exactly the kind of comments made here by Darius McDermott that…well, they just irritate me to the point where I simply cannot stay silent.

The industry needs to focus less on costs and more on total returns” he says. Yes that’s true but since costs are known (well, they could be if managers fessed up to what they are actually are) and the other component of total returns – i.e. future investment growth – can only be guessed at with a level of accuracy which more properly belongs to the infamous ‘dart-throwing chimp’, then focusing on costs is the obvious thing to do.

So, the answer to his question “Can we stop focusing totally on charges?” has to be ‘no. not really’. Because what else is there than can reliably be used as a measure?

Oh wait. Reading on, Darius’s answer becomes clear. It’s those “lots and lots of good active fund managers who perform well after all these charges are included“. ‘Lots’ would be a stretch. ‘Lots and lots’, however, is testing my credulity to way past breaking point. Have you been reading the SPIVA reports Darius? Fund managers who are consistently good (as opposed to having a few lucky years here and there) are only slightly less rare than virgins in a maternity ward.

He goes on to suggest that “There is good active management and this continued bombardment of charges commentary is just noise“. Afraid you have transposed things there, old chap. The charges are the signal, not the noise. The ‘noise’ is, in fact, the megawatt output of the investment management industry (and those advisers who are their willing stooges) trying to sell us the idea that they can beat the markets.

Like all the best comics though, he saves the biggest laugh until last – with this gem “We can find managers who after all these fees can consistently beat the benchmark and index

Really? Can you? Then why not arbitrage them against the index, leverage up the position to the hilt and retire to Panama – hell no, why not BUY Panama? You’d be able to afford it in a few years if what you say is true.