Transparency on Costs and Charges; why aren’t we there yet?!

Register for the event

You can add the event to your calendar as a reminder before booking your place below; this is not a confirmation of booking


Tuesday, January 12th from 6:00pm until 8:30pm, UK time


Online symposium via Zoom.


The event will be structured in such a way as to be as interactive and "life-like" as possible. There will be several presentations with Q&A sessions and an open discussion and debate session towards the end.

Executive Summary

Without suitable information on costs and charges, it is not possible to make sufficiently informed decisions; and the bottom line is that opacity on costs and charges continues to drive out sub-optimal outcomes. Ultimately, this means poorer returns than might otherwise might be the case. 

Our message is not that minimum costs are best – there are many reasons why the cheapest option may not be the best option. 

Our message is that clients deserve to know what the costs are so that options can be considered and benchmarked, properly, thereby enabling well-informed decisions to be made. 

Why is it taking the pensions and investments sector so long to get something as fundamental as proper costs disclosure to happen?

The Regulators, trade bodies and professional associations have understood the importance of costs disclosure in having a transparent, efficient and fair market for ten years or more. 

So why aren’t we there yet?

If, like us, you want real and meaningful improvements to the way the financial system operates, get involved. 

Our event is one more step forward in galvanising support for the positive, progressive and purposeful finance reform that is desperately needed.

We’ll be considering a range of questions such as: 

  • Are asset managers finding ways to evade transparency under MIFID II and PRIIPs; and if so, is that unprofessional “opportunistic opacity” on their part; or a necessary, innocent and pragmatic response to the shortcomings of the regulations?
  • Are any organisations failing to comply with the rules that are already in place; if so, which ones?
  • Where has the Cost Transparency Initiative got to? – is it stuck in the long grass?
  • Are retail investors getting the clear and intelligible information they need and deserve? If not, what (or perhaps even who?) is preventing that from happening?
  • What are the Trade Bodies and Professional Associations doing to protect the interests of consumers in relation to costs/charges? – is there a tension between them doing that effectively whilst also caring for the commercial interests of their members?
  • Is it safe to assume that the costs data disclosed is going to be accurate; or should there be independent data verification?
  • Will we ever get to “one single figure” to represent costs? – could we ever have “one single figure” to represent value for money?
  • Are we there yet on costs and charges transparency? If not, why not? – Who/what is stopping it from happening?
  • Are performance fee arrangements gaining traction because they better-align with clients’ interests and can claim they deliver superior value for money?
  • Is the Ad Valorem fee model becoming obsolete?
  • Do Performance Fees truly reward performance?
  • …and more

Here's the programme and timings so far...

6pm GMT

Welcome to the symposium, introductions and initial exploration of the main issues; plus “Why we must rebuild trustworthiness and confidence in financial services; and how we can do it” by 

Andy Agathangelou, Founder, Transparency Task Force; Governor, Pensions Policy Institute; former Founding Chair, Friends of Automatic Enrolment; former Founding Chair, Association of Member Nominated Trustees.


6:25pm GMT

Presentation #1, for 10 minutes + 5 minutes Q&A/Discussion by

Neil Scarth, Principal, Frost Consulting


6:40pm GMT

Presentation #2, for 10 minutes + 5 minutes Q&A/Discussion by

Edoardo Carlucci, Research & Policy Officer, Better Finance


6:55pm GMT

Short leg-stretch and comfort break, for 10 minutes


7:05pm GMT

Presentation #3, for 5 minutes + 5 minutes Q&A by

Larry Elford, Founder, Investor Advocates


7:15pm GMT

The “Just a minute”-round 

Inspired by the BBC Radio 4 programme, we have asked a selection of our attendees to spend just a minute sharing their thoughts on what has been covered during the symposium. 

But unlike the Radio 4 programme our speakers won’t be penalised for hesitation, repetition or deviation!

Speakers: Henry Tapper, CEO,  AgeWage


7:30pm GMT

Group discussion & debate, 15 minutes


7:55pm GMT

Final conclusions; and suggested next steps and close to the formal proceedings.

However, for those that want it…

8pm GMT until 8:30pm GMT

….informal, unstructured networking and informal conversation; a “fireside chat” amongst friends as it were


*The programme will continuously evolve so is subject to change.

Neil Scarth
Principal, Frost Consulting

Neil Scarth is a Principal of Frost Consulting, which works with asset managers and asset owners on research issues including research valuation/budgeting software platforms (FrostRB), strategy-level research spending database/benchmarks (FrostDB), and investment process ESG integration.

Frost works with asset owners to identify potential performance risks to equity strategies related to changes in research spending/process resulting from commercial and regulatory change globally.

Frost solutions allow asset managers and asset owners to collaborate on mutually transparent research budgets designed to allow the investment strategy to meet its targeted return.  It is in the interest of both parties for the product to succeed. 

Research transparency and “sustainability” are emerging as ESG factors and stewardship/ governance issues for asset owners.

Neil has held a wide range of roles in asset management and investment banking in both Europe and North America, including running equities businesses at global banks to launching and managing all aspects of varying asset management products. 

Neil was appointed to the UK Investment Management Association’s Research Review Advisory Panel and has consulted extensively with global regulators on research issues. Frost has authored papers on research topics for, and in collaboration with, the CFA Institute, the University of Edinburgh, and Stanford University.


Edoardo Carlucci
Research & Policy Officer, Better Finance

Edoardo Carlucci is Research and Policy Officer at Better Finance. He obtained his Bachelor degree in Economics, Finance and Management with Law at Sapienza University of Rome, with a thesis on “Shareholding and Interlocking Directorates in the Italian Corporate Governance”. In 2014, he graduated at the ULB University obtaining the Master Degree in European Studies with Economic Specialization. He wrote an analytical thesis on the “Fragmentation of the European Financial Markets”.

He previously worked in the European Institutions and Civil Society Organizations dealing with various aspects of economic issues and policies such as EU Internal Market, EU Competition Policies, Public Procurement and SMEs. He also worked on research projects and analysis as European Economic Forecasts. At BETTER FINANCE, Edoardo is responsible for various policy and research areas such as Sustainable Finance, Fintech, Financial Reporting and Corporate Governance.


Larry Elford
Founder, Investor Advocates

Larry is founder of in Canada, which seeks to understand motivations that warp financial systems from being of service to the public, to becoming a dangerous drain upon the public.

After spending two decades as a retail broker in Canada’s largest banks it became imperative to understand what was seen as a pandemic of professional financial abuse.  He has testified to parliamentary committees four times in the last decade and is a consulting director to the Small Investor Protection Association of Canada,

Larry is also an author and film producer. He was included in John Lawrence Reynolds’ second edition bestselling book, The Naked Investor, Why Almost Everybody But You Gets Rich On Your RRSP, and Bruce Livesey’s Best Seller, Thieves of Bay Street, How Banks, Brokerages and the Wealthy Steal Billions from Canadians. He produced a documentary film titled “Breach of Trust, The Unique Violence of White Collar Crime”, to benefit investors, legislators and those who investigate financial crime.

What he has observed over the last two decades of the 1900s, and the first two decades of the 21st-century, is condensed into a book titled  “ABOUT YOUR FINANCIAL MURDER…”, to be released March 2018. The book argues that organized acts by financial professionals, drains North America by as much money as ALL other criminal acts combined.

Larry is a director of the Canadian Justice Review Board, an advisory group which brings independent oversight to the state of affairs of justice systems. His interest springs from decades of observed investment regulatory capture, and financial industry capture of related professions including elements of justice and law.

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