Well, this is a turn-up for the books. Fidelity FundsNetwork (the SPECTRE of fund supermarkets to Skandia’s SMERSH) has announced that it’s going to start publishing the rebates it receives from fund managers.

Money Marketing has the skinny here.

A couple of things jump to mind:

  1. Well done. Yes, Fiddy would have had to do this by the end of next year anyway, but to lead the market in this way is a brave statement of intent. Without being nasty, they had been relatively quiet for so long that they were starting to drop off the radar. I think we might be seeing a newly-muscled red and white behemoth hoving into view.
  2. Who’s next? Cofunds, as it happens. They’re planning to announce their RDR plans ‘very soon’  – and the pressure will now be on to be as open as Fidelity. I expect – and hope – that they will rise to the challenge.
  3. What about Skandia and, to a lesser extent, Standard Life? Both have legal agreements which require those extra-juicy rebates to be a state secret, but I wonder how long that will last? Anyone with a calculator can work out SL’s rebates by generating single-fund portfolios, but Southampton’s finest is a different matter. Those legals will have to be rewritten soon – but no doubt asset managers would prefer to see inflows coming through platforms with a lower rebate so they won’t be in a hurry. An intractable one? We’ll see.
  4. The average rebate to Fidelity seems to be just north of 0.25%, which is not a surprise. How will the wraps that are charging 0.4% or 0.5% for general investment accounts and ISAs respond? Scale is a cruel mistress, but 0.25% for a similar service ain’t nothing and I’d wager we’re going to see some downward price pressure as a result of this.

Let’s be clear – this isn’t the endgame. We don’t see details of shelf space distribution deals in this announcement, and we’re no further forward in understanding how a bundled supermarket will work when costs are exploded out into their constituent parts. But Fidelity have done a good thing today, and are now hereby allowed one (1) small sweet sherry before getting back to the office and telling us how it’s all going to work from 2013.