It is understood that the regulator’s review into fund governance following the collapse of Neil Woodford’s investment empire has been pushed back to 2021.

The probe into ACDs officially launched in January after intense criticism of the role Neil Woodford’s administrator Link Fund Solutions played in his investment empire’s collapse last June. It was originally scheduled to conclude ‘in early 2020’.

It is unclear how much ground has been covered and how much more time will be needed to finish the probe and in response to a freedom of information request, sent by Wealth Manager at the beginning of the pandemic when the review was shelved, the FCA said it had only contacted four out of the 15 ACD firms in the industry.

The FOI response also revealed that a core team of eight people were working on the review, supported by other departments.

‘In addition, it is becoming ever more difficult to carry out any suitable and meaningful preparation for what the FCA may conclude or investigate, with the uncertainty surrounding Brexit to contend with just round the corner.’

In a Dear CEO letter in January, the watchdog had said it was specifically concerned about the relationship between asset managers and their ACDs, which provide many of the basic administrative services involved in running funds.

While ACDs have an ultimate fiduciary duty to fund investors, they are financially dependent on asset manager clients, creating a clear tension.

The letter said: ‘We are concerned that “host” ACDs may not be undertaking their responsibilities effectively in some cases, leading to poor value products and them failing to ensure risks are properly managed,’ the FCA said at the time.

Last week it was also reported the FCA’s second suitability review would be delayed indefinitely after it also failed to appear in the regulator’s timetable, despite warnings  earlier this year of a clampdown on subpar advice.

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