Targeted to mislead?

Last week, the Investment Management Association (IMA) announced it was renaming a particular type of investment. From now on, says the trade association for investment managers, the “Absolute Returns Sector” will be known as the “Targeted Absolute Returns Sector”.

The reason for the rename? With rumblings of another mis-selling scandal in the works, the IMA wanted to make it absolutely clear that if you put your money in these investments, you might lose some of your dosh.

In what sensible person’s head does “Targeted Absolute Returns Sector” say “you might lose some of your dosh”?

In what sensible person’s head does “Targeted Absolute Returns Sector” not suggest precision, focus and guaranteed profits?

A less disingenuous approach would have been to avoid the “Targeted” and ditch the “Absolute”. I suggest “Attempted Returns Sector”.

You can see what’s happened here. The marketing bod who came up with the new name was told the managers of these funds try their best to make profits for investors but can’t guarantee they’ll succeed.

But a word like “try” doesn’t sound positive, dynamic and businesslike enough. It smacks too much of failure. So instead we get “Targeted”.

In a press release, Daniel Godfrey, IMA Chief Executive, was quoted as saying:

"One key purpose of the Absolute Return Sector review was to make sure that consumers do not inadvertently perceive there to be some implicit guarantee of positive returns due to the name of the sector. Adding the ‘targeted' description to the sector name fulfils this purpose.”

No, it doesn’t, said several financial journalists and industry players. I quite agree. If anything, the rename has increased the chances of mis-selling. Target your eyes on this space.

See the BBC’s original report on the rename.