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  • FIRST POST
    • Wayne's Woes
    • By Wayne's Woes 31st Aug 17, 10:51 AM
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    Wayne's Woes
    Why do some funds have different Buy and Sell prices whilst others have the same.
    • #1
    • 31st Aug 17, 10:51 AM
    Why do some funds have different Buy and Sell prices whilst others have the same. 31st Aug 17 at 10:51 AM
    Why do some fund managers have different Buying and Selling Prices whilst others have the same for both.
    Examples
    Different Buying and Selling Prices; Old Mutual, Jupiter and Artemis.
    Same Buy and sell Prices; Schroder; Baillie Gifford; AXA Framlington; Investec; Threadneedle and Invesco.

    I am sure there are others in both categories
Page 1
    • talexuser
    • By talexuser 31st Aug 17, 11:46 AM
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    talexuser
    • #2
    • 31st Aug 17, 11:46 AM
    • #2
    • 31st Aug 17, 11:46 AM
    Historically there was always a spread (different prices) where the difference represented the initial fee, or buying in price. When the retail review came in some years ago (and in preparation in many cases) investment houses started changing to single price, because obviously that is what customers prefer, and took up any difference in other fees. Now spread pricing looks like a bit of a historical anomaly and if there were two identical performance funds in a sector I wanted I would plump for the single price one, all other things being equal.
    • ColdIron
    • By ColdIron 31st Aug 17, 12:34 PM
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    ColdIron
    • #3
    • 31st Aug 17, 12:34 PM
    • #3
    • 31st Aug 17, 12:34 PM
    Older style Unit Trusts may still have a spread while more modern OEICs will typically be single priced though there are exceptions
    • Linton
    • By Linton 31st Aug 17, 3:51 PM
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    Linton
    • #4
    • 31st Aug 17, 3:51 PM
    • #4
    • 31st Aug 17, 3:51 PM
    Split pricing is not necessarily a bad thing for long term investors. Under single pricing the costs caused by people trading shares in the fund are included in the standard charges and so are borne mainly by the long term holders. Split pricing hits frequent traders and so makes the charges less for everyone else.
    Last edited by Linton; 31-08-2017 at 3:53 PM.
    • Audaxer
    • By Audaxer 31st Aug 17, 5:38 PM
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    Audaxer
    • #5
    • 31st Aug 17, 5:38 PM
    • #5
    • 31st Aug 17, 5:38 PM
    Yes, I just found out when purchasing funds that some Artemis funds are dual-priced with a difference in the Buy and Sell price of over 1% in some cases, which I thought seemed like an underhand way of charging an initial fee.
    • grey gym sock
    • By grey gym sock 31st Aug 17, 7:13 PM
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    grey gym sock
    • #6
    • 31st Aug 17, 7:13 PM
    • #6
    • 31st Aug 17, 7:13 PM
    this is a very murky area, full of dodgy ways for fund managers to make money, at investors' expense, and often without the investors even realizing what's going on. surprisingly, this can even apply to funds which have a single price!

    there is a fair reason why some funds might have different prices for buying and selling units: they may incur significant unavoidable costs when they buy and sell investments. e.g. if they are investing in FTSE100 shares, their main cost should be 0.5% stamp duty on all purchases (plus much smaller amounts for dealing commissions and the bid-offer spread). or if they are investing in small companies, the bid-offer spread could be much bigger - at least a few percent. or if they are investing directly in real estate, the cost of buying and selling could be even more. OTOH, if they are investing in S&P500 companies, the costs may be minimal. so this varies for different funds.

    considering the case when these trading costs come to 0.5%, if £1m flows into the fund today (and is invested), and £1m is taken out of the fund tomorrow (and investments are sold to raise that cash), then the fund needs to do something (such as using buy and sell prices which differ by 0.5%) to ensure that it doesn't lose £5,000, to the detriment of longer-term investors in the fund. however, there are usually both inflows and outflows of cash on the same day, which can be partially offset with 1 another. e.g. if £1m flows in and £0.2m flows out today, then only £0.8m needs to be invested. and if, tomorrow, £0.6m flows in £1.4m flows out, then only £0.8m of investments need to be sold. 0.5% costs on £0.8m are only £4,000; on the total gross inflows of £1.6m over the 2 days, that is only 0.25% costs, not 0.5%.

    so what might the fund manager do, if they estimate that the round-trip costs for investing cash and selling the investment again is 0.5%, but that in practice the net costs (after partially offsetting inflows and outflows of cash) are more like 0.25%?

    1 possibility is: use buying and selling prices which differ by 0.5%, and pocket the other 0.25% for themselves. this is called "box profits". it seems pretty outrageous to me. apparently the FCA are thinking of banning this, in its most blatant form - i.e. box profits where the manager profits without taking any risk. (but there are most subtle ways this might come back - see below.)

    you'd think that a fairer approach was to use buying and selling prices that differ by only 0.25% . or, similarly, to do what vanguard do on some of their funds, which is to have a single price but set a dilution levy on purchases of 0.25% (or dilution levies on both purchases and sales, which add up to 0.25%). i note that vanguard explicitly say that their dilution levies go to the benefit of the fund, not to them. which i used to think was stating the obvious. but turns out not to be so obvious, when you find out about box profits.

    so what about single priced funds?

    there are really 2 questions:

    what can the manager do to protect longer-term investors from paying the costs of buying and selling investments when short-term investors jump in and out of the fund?

    and: how can managers use this process to make profits in a sneaky way at the expense of investors?

    the answer to both questions is that the manager has some discretion about the exact price they use - i.e. it doesn't necessarily have to be precisely the net asset value - a small premium or discount can be used.

    so they can protect longer-term investors by pushing the price to a premium on days when there is more cash flowing into than out of the fund, and to a discount when more cash is flowing out than in. which is OK for holders who aren't buying or selling on the day. but what about those who are buying or selling? it's very opaque for them: they don't know how much premium or discount is being used, or even whether it will be a premium or a discount on any day. they're actually taking pot luck on every purchase or sale: if they happen to buy at a premium or sell at a discount, they'll lose out; but if they happen to buy at a discount or sell at a premium, they'll actually gain. the pricing is always going to be chosen so that there are more losers than winners on any day; which is fair, in the sense that somebody has to pay for the trading costs; but it would be much fairer to have a dilution levy instead, to avoid the pot luck element and make the costs transparent.

    a further problem is that presumably the fund manager can choose to buy some units in the fund themselves on days when they happen to know (after seeing everybody else's buy and sell orders) that pricing will be at a discount, and to sell when they know pricing will be at a premium. i imagine this is the kind of thing the FCA had in mind when it said it was thinking of not banning all box profits for fund mangers, but only risk-free box profits. buying units in the fund does involve a risk - the investments held by the fund may rise or fall - but the table is tilted in the manger's direction if they can trade based on their knowledge of the day's premium or discount. and the manager's gains here can only be made at other investors' expense.

    surely the FCA should simply insist that all funds use a single price, not at a premium or discount, optionally with a dilution levy which is paid into the fund. their current plans appear to leave too much room for hidden charges to continue.

    1 lesson for investors is: minimize how often you buy and sell funds, because somebody may be profiting at your expense every time you do.
    Last edited by grey gym sock; 31-08-2017 at 7:16 PM.
    • greenglide
    • By greenglide 31st Aug 17, 7:34 PM
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    greenglide
    • #7
    • 31st Aug 17, 7:34 PM
    • #7
    • 31st Aug 17, 7:34 PM
    : use buying and selling prices which differ by 0.5%, and pocket the other 0.25% for themselves.
    Would the difference not remain within the fund rather than be "pocketed" by the manager?
    • grey gym sock
    • By grey gym sock 31st Aug 17, 8:12 PM
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    grey gym sock
    • #8
    • 31st Aug 17, 8:12 PM
    • #8
    • 31st Aug 17, 8:12 PM
    Would the difference not remain within the fund rather than be "pocketed" by the manager?
    Originally posted by greenglide
    no: they are allowed to pocket it, though apparently most managers don't do this (at least: not any more).

    see SnowMan's comment: http://monevator.com/investment-platforms-and-fund-managers-roughed-up-in-fca-final-report/#comment-819807

    and this FCA consultation: https://www.fca.org.uk/publication/consultation/cp17-18.pdf pp. 25-7
    • greenglide
    • By greenglide 31st Aug 17, 11:27 PM
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    greenglide
    • #9
    • 31st Aug 17, 11:27 PM
    • #9
    • 31st Aug 17, 11:27 PM
    Hmm. Scary .....
    • NicksTheMan
    • By NicksTheMan 1st Sep 17, 9:26 AM
    • 41 Posts
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    NicksTheMan
    Old Mutual funds appear to have the biggest differential between buying and selling prices. Is this an issue that the FCA are investigating.
    • bigadaj
    • By bigadaj 1st Sep 17, 2:30 PM
    • 10,737 Posts
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    bigadaj
    Hmm. Scary .....
    Originally posted by greenglide

    Better not get onto stock lending then....
    • TwoSeniorCitizens
    • By TwoSeniorCitizens 4th Sep 17, 8:32 AM
    • 28 Posts
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    TwoSeniorCitizens
    This factor is something we must bear in mind when considering purchasing any funds for a Stock and Shares ISA. When there is a differential between buying and selling then you must take this percentage into consideration. At least when you purchase funds with the same buying and selling prices you know where you stand at the outset.Having looked into this point since this subject was posted I would agree Old Mutual appear to have the largest span between buying and selling prices
    • jamei305
    • By jamei305 4th Sep 17, 9:08 AM
    • 225 Posts
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    jamei305
    Where the spread includes a percentage initial fee, sometimes this element is refunded. For example iShares Emerging Market Equity Index H Acc currently has a spread of 160.0p - 168.80p. This 8.8p spread is made up mostly of the initial charge - 5% of 168.8p i.e. 8.44p which is refunded on most platforms e.g. HL. The actual purchase price would be 160.36p giving a spread of roughly 0.2%.
    Last edited by jamei305; 04-09-2017 at 9:31 AM.
    • Wayne's Woes
    • By Wayne's Woes 12th Sep 17, 5:01 PM
    • 28 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    Wayne's Woes
    Maybe I can save money by going through a Management Investment company like Hargreaves or Elson Associates (a recommendation) who often do not make the initial charge of between 3% and 5% which is made when investing directly with the fund like Old Mutual, Fidelity,Schroders etc. Charges and spreads seem to be a bit of a minefield.
    Last edited by Wayne's Woes; 12-09-2017 at 5:19 PM.
    • dunstonh
    • By dunstonh 12th Sep 17, 5:04 PM
    • 89,606 Posts
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    dunstonh
    Old Mutual funds appear to have the biggest differential between buying and selling prices. Is this an issue that the FCA are investigating.
    Why would they be investigating?

    Maybe I can save money by going through a Management Investment company like Hargreaves or Elsons who often do not make the initial charge of between 3% and 5% which is made when investing directly with the fund like Old Mutual, Fidelity etc. Charges and spreads seem a bit of a minefield.
    There is no intial charge and a reduced spread (sometimes to zero) when using a platform. Hardly anyone buys direct anymore.
    I am an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). Comments are for discussion purposes only. They are not financial advice. Different people have different needs and what is right for one person may not be for another. If you feel an area discussed may be relevant to you, then please seek advice from an Independent Financial Adviser local to you.
    • grey gym sock
    • By grey gym sock 14th Nov 17, 4:55 AM
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    grey gym sock
    after my praise (in post #6, above) for the transparency of dilution levies, as used by vanguard, i'm disappointed to see that vanguard have stopped using dilution levies, and started using swing pricing instead: see https://www.vanguardinvestor.co.uk/articles/latest-thoughts/how-it-works/why-vanguard-is-moving-to-swing-pricing

    they claim this will be more transparent, but i have to disagree. i don't expect vanguard will be trying to cream off money (by putting in buy or sell orders for their own funds on their own account - buy orders on days when the price is being swung down, sell orders on days when it's being swung up). but i do expect some of their rival fund managers to do this. and vanguard switching to swing pricing may give those other managers cover to do this.

    i suspect that they've switched to single pricing because some investors (mistakenly) think that a single price implies that there is no cost to buy and sell a fund.

    mildly disappointed ... (it's not that big an issue, really, for long-term, buy-and-hold investors.)
    • bowlhead99
    • By bowlhead99 14th Nov 17, 8:20 AM
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    bowlhead99
    I used to quite like Vanguard's dilution levy - not least because it gave me the chance to show off as a know-it-all when someone asked on here what it was all about or why the performance chart for a Vanguard FTSE tracker might appear marginally better than an HSBC one in terms of tracking error etc :-)

    The problem with a fixed dilution levy is that they have to guesstimate the net inflows and outflows to work it out and publish a figure in advance which is then paid by the subscribing customer whether or not the projected underlying costs are actually incurred as a result of their contribution. The existing investors, through the dilution levies, get a fixed level of income from each new investor to offset the actual expenses associated with the net subscriptions and redemptions, and if the expenses don't materialise they just get a free performance boost.

    The rationale for a dilution levy is, for example: if you contribute £1006 to a UK FTSE100 fund, in order to deploy your capital the fund manager will need to buy £1000 of FTSE stocks and incur £5 stamp duty and (say) £0.90 of costs from brokers and custodians etc together with £0.10 of incremental administration work due to the existence of your subscription. So only £1000 is added to the NAV of the fund from your subscription. To be fair on the existing investors you should only get credited with shares or units in the fund which are 'worth' £1000 rather than £1006 because that's the net new money you added into the fund. You could say that for every £1000 of shares you buy you should pay 0.6% on top for costs.

    However if you are subscribing your £1006 of new money at the same time someone else wants to leave the fund and take £1006 with them, then the fund does not need to incur any stamp duty or broker costs to add to its portfolio because instead of selling shares to get cash for the old investor and then buying a bunch of new shares for you the new investor and paying stamp duty and dealing costs, there is no trading at all and your 'new money' just gets given to the leaver and the fund keeps its existing portfolio of assets untouched. There might still be the £0.10 administration costs of handling the investor register updates but the rest of the £1006 you put in is completely intact and it would be very harsh to give you only £1000 of credit when your money allowed the fund to pay off an exiting investor's £1006 of redemption payment.

    So, with a 'dilution levy' the fund can say:
    OK, I'm an index fund whose assets are growing relatively rapidly at the moment due to net inflows (e.g., equities are popular at the moment, and index funds in particular, and I recently reduced my management fees so I am going to be one of the more popular destinations for people's capital in this fund sector). The net inflows are a result of the popularity of my fund and instead of subscriptions being broadly similar to redemptions from day to day, only two thirds of my investors subscriptions match off with redemptions and the rest is new additional capital to be deployed into my portfolio, increasing the assets of the fund.

    So, two-thirds of the time the investor gives me £1006 and that pays for £1006 of redemptions, which is fine, but one third of the time he gives me £1006 and I have to invest it into companies and after stamp duty and dealing costs we only have a net £1000 of new NAV for that money he gave me. Based on the projected two-thirds one-third split which we saw over the last 3-6 months and we expect to continue over the next financial quarter ahead, we should probably set the dilution levy at 0.2% rather than 0.6% or 0%.

    It's a nice idea in theory but in reality the weighted average subscriptions in the period ahead are unlikely to mean that exactly 0.2% is the right number. So, either it won't go far enough (and the cost of deploying new money will be a relative drag on returns) or the levy will be too high - and the existing investors get a tasty subsidy from the new investors who are paying money just in case costs are incurred but actually the costs aren't incurred so the money just boosts the funds' assets at the expense of the new investor.

    As dilution levies, joining fees or initial charges are unattractive to investors who are shopping for funds, the fact that there is some moderate entry fee for a Vanguard fund may make it less attractive to investors who don't understand it fully (and to be fair, there are likely a lot of them). So it would perhaps be better for Vanguard's marketing if they could scrap the levy concept. The big institutional investors who already have a large investment and fully understand the concept might be a little disappointed that it no longer exists, but if the fund is still growing then the fund running costs will be spread across a wider number of shares and they may ultimately be able to get a lower OCF which offsets the fact they are no longer 'earning' the levy from the new joiners.

    Another reason for scrapping the levy is that when they first had these levies, Vanguard were less established in the UK and their products from simple indexes to the popular Lifestrategy fund range were building up from a low base of assets under management, and the rapid growth meant lots of net inflows relative to outflows. Now they have greater AUM, if Vanguard gets (e.g.) a billion of inflows to its fund this month, and close to a billion outflows through natural attrition, that will be a relatively smaller net inflow as a percentage of total assets in the fund than it was in the days when they had a half billion of inflows but only a few hundred million under management. So, the levy would naturally be much closer to the 0.0% level than the 0.6% level.

    The lower the levy, the less important it is to have one, and the 'swing pricing' used by many others in the industry seems quite suitable when the costs of a new joiner are not massive. It is probably easier to do the calculation daily as the contributions ebb and flow, rather than try to set it every quarter or every month based on a projection of what might happen that quarter or that month as a guesstimate.
    • pip895
    • By pip895 14th Nov 17, 11:34 AM
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    pip895
    Very interesting thread. I have always been a little puzzled by the statements in many articles/books etc. about the costs involved in trading funds. I wondered if it was a hang up from times when dilution levies, spreads and initial charges were common place - but perhaps not entirely!

    If you take a large fund such as Vanguard LS100 with a zero spread, no initial charge then on a day to day basis what would be the effect of these costs on returns? The cost of holding the fund over the year is 0.22% what might these charges add to that if the fund was sold on its one year anniversary. Presumably it would be negligible provided neither purchase or sale days were ones when there was a high disparity between the number of shares bought and redeemed?

    If you were unlucky and happened to buy or sell on days which weren't matched - how high could the additional charges be as a percentage? Or would any charges be made explicit by the sudden imposition of a buy sell price difference?
    • grey gym sock
    • By grey gym sock 15th Nov 17, 4:01 AM
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    grey gym sock
    The problem with a fixed dilution levy is that they have to guesstimate the net inflows and outflows to work it out and publish a figure in advance which is then paid by the subscribing customer whether or not the projected underlying costs are actually incurred as a result of their contribution. The existing investors, through the dilution levies, get a fixed level of income from each new investor to offset the actual expenses associated with the net subscriptions and redemptions, and if the expenses don't materialise they just get a free performance boost.
    Originally posted by bowlhead99
    that's a fair point. the dilution levy can only ever be an estimate of the underlying costs of buying/selling investments. and it may need to be adjusted after a few months.

    however, i'd imagine the estimates can be pretty good. and people can at least see what they're paying. by contrast, let's look at how swing pricing might work ...

    (following your numbers,) suppose each unit of a fund is invested in assets which can be sold for £1000, but which would cost £1006 to buy (a difference of 0.6% - which is mostly stamp duty).

    consider 3 different days of subscription/redemption of units in the fund:

    day 1: £15m of subscriptions, £2m of redemptions

    day 2: £10m of subscriptions, £8m of redemptions

    day 3: £5m of subscriptions, £10m of redemptions

    to keep the numbers relatively simple, i'll assume the market value of the underlying investments is the same on each of the 3 days (at £1000 per unit to sell, or £1006 per unit to buy).

    on day 1, £2m of subscriptions is matched with redemptions, so £13m of underlying investments have to be bought. that costs 0.6% of £13m, which is £78,000. if the fund is using single-price, swing-pricing, then to raise that money the day's unit price must be set at £1006 (and that applies to both subscriptions and redemptions).

    on day 2, £8m of subscriptions can be matched with redemptions, and only £2m of underlying investments have to be bought. that costs 0.6% of £2m, which is £12,000. to raise that, the unit price must be set to £1006 (again). that may seem odd - this should be more efficient than day 1, because subscriptions are more closely matched with redemptions today - but buyers of new units see no benefit from this, because all the benefit is taken by the sellers who walk off with £1006 per unit (more than the underlying investments could be sold for).

    on day 3, £5m of subscriptions are matched with redemptions, and £5m of underlying investments are sold. so the day's unit price is swung down to £1000. which is a cheap way in for the buyers, but a little disappointing for the sellers.

    in total over the 3 days (we can perhaps think of these 3 days as being vaguely representative of what happens in a fund which is mostly growing):

    there have been £30m of subscriptions, of which £25m were at the less favourable price of £1006, and £5m were at the more favourable price of £1000.

    there have been £20m of redemptions, of which £10m were at the more favourable price of £1006, and £10m at the less favourable price of £1000.

    the problem, as i see it, is that you're rolling the dice every time you buy or sell this fund, because you don't know in advance whether you'll get the favourable or the unfavourable price. (... unless you're the fund manager, who may be able to count the other subscriptions and redemptions before deciding how much to subscribe/redeem on their own account on each day.)

    if you're lucky, you'll buy for £1000 and sell for £1006 (without the value of the underlying investments changing at all!). if you're unlucky, you'll buy for £1006 and sell for £1000. if you're in between, you'll sell for the same price you bought at (both £1000, or both £1006).

    IMHO, it's more logical to say: if those are 3 representative days, then the total costs of investing new cash was £78,000 + £12,000 = £90,000. we could spread that cost across all £30m of subscriptions by charging a dilution levy of 0.3% - which makes the cost of subscribing for units (including the levy) £1003 on every day; and units would redeemed for £1000 on every day.

    a known round-trip (buy and then sell) cost of 0.3% (or whatever amount it's amended to when circumstances change) seems fairer to me than the swing pricing method, in which the round-trip cost can be any of:
    0.6% or
    zero or
    MINUS 0.6%
    and you are effectively rolling the dice every time you buy and sell.

    that's just a bit bizarre, IMHO.

    0.6% is not that big - daily price moves in shares can easily be bigger than that. this becomes more of an issue when the underlying costs of investing are higher, e.g. for small companies, which can have bid-offer spreads of several percent. this may be the issue with marlborough UK micro cap growth fund: see http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5186032

    i should add that i believe some funds may be using swing pricing in a less extreme way - i.e. they swing the price by less than the full cost of buying the underlying investments. does that result in loss of value to long-term holders of the fund? it may not, if perhaps the fund doesn't invest all new cash in the underlying investments on the day it's received, but invests a little in derivatives, which should match the performance of the underlying investments, but can be sold more cheaply if cash happens to be flowing out of the fund on the next day.
    Last edited by grey gym sock; 15-11-2017 at 4:04 AM.
    • bowlhead99
    • By bowlhead99 15th Nov 17, 10:54 AM
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    bowlhead99
    i should add that i believe some funds may be using swing pricing in a less extreme way - i.e. they swing the price by less than the full cost of buying the underlying investments. does that result in loss of value to long-term holders of the fund? it may not, if perhaps the fund doesn't invest all new cash in the underlying investments on the day it's received, but invests a little in derivatives, which should match the performance of the underlying investments, but can be sold more cheaply if cash happens to be flowing out of the fund on the next day.
    Originally posted by grey gym sock
    Most funds will not literally be swinging the price from -0.6 to +0.6 day by day. They can take a '3 day view' as per your example, or longer, because they will have a buffer of cash and derivatives providing liquidity as necessary and much of the time the net subs and reds are likely to be immaterial in the context of total assets.

    Where they run into liquidity problems (e.g. property funds with a run for the exit) then they may need to do more aggressive swinging or operate on a bid base only for some time.

    I don't know that swing pricing is any less or more transparent than dilution levy in the grand scheme of things because both can result in you paying a bit more than was absolutely necessary in the context of their overall actual amounts in and out that month; and you have no way of examining their books and records personally.

    Ultimately you can judge a fund performance on its pricing point from one date to another which captures all the gross performance and charges other than its published dilution levy from time to time and you can see the volatility of pricing; so while I like the idea of transparency in financial markets I doubt that getting the nth level of detail about everything is some sort of panacea.
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