MFS counting on impact in Aussie retail market

US funds management giant Massachusetts Financial Services (MFS) has launched its first retail offering into the Australian market via a rebadged product which carries the Count Wealth Accountants brand.

US funds management giant Massachusetts Financial Services (MFS) has launched its first retail offering into the Australian market via a rebadged product which carries the Count Wealth Accountants brand.

Count is to distribute the Count MFS Global Equity Fund through its network of 490 accounting practices, representing about 1200 proper authority holders.

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The move by MFS is their third major push into the Australian finan-cial services market in the five years it has been in Australia. The group launched with a wholesale fund and then provided the seed capi-tal for the United Funds Management master trust in 1997. United re-cently became a wholely owned subsidiary of MFS and is headed by man-aging director Graham Lenzer.

The product is Count's fourth foray into re-badging funds management products, following agreements with First State and Advance. However, Count managing director Barry Lambert emphasises that Count is not in the business of manufacturing products but providing clients with the best possible financial deals.

Lambert says the strategy behind the deal with MFS is two-fold. The first is to promote international equities to Australian investors which have traditionally shied away from the sector.

"Historically, the best performing asset class has been international eqiuties," Lambert says.

Secondly it is to provide its advisers with an alternative to BT Funds Management which has dominated the international managed funds sector in Australia for a number of years. BT's international funds have taken most of Count's clients' international investments for a number of years, but Lambert says the recent change of ownership con-vinced him it was "prudent to diversify fund managers".

Under the terms of the deal, Count advisers will be able to charge lower fees on the MFS fund and the fund has a management fee capped at 2 per cent.

MFS has indicated it will also distribute the fund through other channels at a later date.




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