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Video blog: the shocking impact of charges on investment returns

February 04, 2015

If you’ve ever wondered why we put so much emphasis on the cost of investing, this video explains why. Over 40 years, the typical effect of charges is to reduce your potential returns by more than two-thirds. Don’t believe us? Look at the figures.


Much has been said lately about the dismal returns typically produced by active funds managers.

Only around one per cent of funds beat the market consistently.

But just as shocking is how much investors are paying for that underperformance.

The figures we’re about to show you are for the United Kingdom, but total charges in the UK are not dissimilar to those in most countries around the world.

Let’s say you’re lucky enough to inherit £100,000 and you’re sensible enough to put it away for 40 years for your retirement.

What charges can you expect to pay?

Well, a typical annual management fee in 0.75%, though some investors pay far more.

On its own, 0.75% seems fairly modest. But the management fee is just the start of it.

There’s also a platform charge of around 0.35% and an average adviser charge of 0.82%.

Initial adviser charges, annualised, come to 0.24%.

Then there are fund custody and administration costs, which average 0.17%.

On top of all that are transaction costs. And the problem is, these could be anything, depending on how much trading your fund manager chooses to do. You really don’t know.

But we need to put a figure in here, so we’ll say 0.41%, which is the average figure for transaction costs.

And that means the total cost of investing, on average, is 2.74%.

Now you might look at that figure and say, OK, it is a significant chunk, but surely it can’t have a huge impact on the returns I end up making?

To which I would give you a one-word reply…


The effect of compounding can be huge.

You see, you don’t just pay these fees once. You’re paying the same percentages over and over again. And as the value of your investment grows, so do the pounds and pence charges you incur.

So what sort of impact do these charges have on the value of your investments over the long term?

Well, let’s assume an annualised return of 8% before charges which, after charges of 2.74% nets down to 5.26%.

40 years on, when you’re ready to retire, that means the £100,000 you invested would without any charges be worth £2,172,452 and after charges a mere £777,203.

So your actual gain would be just £677,203.

That’s because the effect of your total charges would have reduced your potential return by a staggering £1,395,249.

That’s right… More than two thirds of your potential gains have been lost.

Just think about that for a moment.

You’ve provided all the capital. You’ve taken all the risk.

And yet you’ve only kept 33% - one third - of the returns.

It’s a similar story for investors in North America, Australasia and most of Europe.

Investors in southern Europe, most of Asia and Central America are paying even higher charges than that.

Now you can see why, for sensible investors, keeping costs low is an absolute priority.

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A bigger problem than the disregard of charges by small investors is the importance they attach to past performance. It is easy to find some funds that have had great performance in the last 10,5 and 3 years and it seems very reasonable to assume that these funds will also outperform their sector in the next 5 years. Those fund managers have proven their skill so to speak. Investors do not care much about averages, they are buying the best. What you have to show is that the best performers of the last 5 years do not outperform in the next 5 years.

Silvan Schumacher

Great video. Often people are not aware about the impact of charges on their investment. This is why we keep costs low, transparent and simple

Sensible Investing

Hi Scott, Thanks for your comment. We actually produced the figures ourselves based on calculations from the True and Fair Campaign.The report can be downloaded from their website:

Scott Tan

Good information. Except you forgot to credit its source, John Bogle.

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