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Denmark’s investment firms warned over bad advice amid low rates

Denmark’s financial regulator is warning investment firms to ensure they don’t encourage clients to take on more risk than they can handle as negative interest rates alter the asset-management environment.

Photo: René Schütze

The admonishment comes as the Financial Supervisory Authority in Copenhagen points to what it’s characterizing as a growing danger that clients get bad financial advice, with low interest rates prompting many to move their savings into more exotic investment products.

Denmark, which uses monetary policy to peg the krone to the euro, has had negative interest rates longer than any other country. That’s driven investors who were once happy to leave their savings in low-risk accounts into more volatile corners of the market.

2018 was a “bad year” for the Danish investment fund industry, with the value of assets falling 3 percent from a year earlier, the FSA said on Tuesday. The industry got an extra DKK 50bn (USD 7.6bn) injected into it last year, meaning the decline in value was entirely due to poor performance, the FSA said.

“Financial institutions have an incentive that’s greater than it used to be to move client savings from deposit accounts into investment products,” FSA Director General Jesper Berg said in the statement. By doing so, they can earn more money on fees and commissions, he said.

“That raises the risk that financial institutes’ focus on their own earnings overshadows their focus on whether investments are in the interest of clients,” Berg said.

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