Milford Asset Management

Does anyone else think that Brian Gaynor banging on about transparency is a sick joke?

Brian Gaynor still has column in the NZ Herald, despite his company being under investigation for manipulating markets, and despite the Guardians of the Superfund pulling their warrant, for want of a better term.

The Herald seems to think his columns are just fine, and NZME. thinks his continued pushing of Kiwisaver ads on NewstalkZB is fine to.

Today’s column though is just taking the piss. He is banging on about transparency.

One of the major issues raised by the Ports of Auckland wharf expansion controversy is whether Auckland ratepayers have greater transparency and more influence over the company than they did when it was listed on the NZX.

Similar transparency and influence issues can be raised regarding Air New Zealand, Genesis Energy, Meridian Energy and Mighty River Power, all NZX listed and more than 50 per cent owned by the Crown.

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Milford – understanding the problem

So then, the NZ Super Fund dropped a nuclear bomb on the NZ financial markets late last week, by suspending Milford Asset Management from overseeing funds on behalf of the NZ public. This can only been seen as bad news for Milford as the FMA is due to report back on their enquiries soon. Clearly, the NZ Super Fund are expecting bad news for Milford.

We have also been forwarded a “panic stations” email from Milford to their clients, outlining how the allegations do not affect KiwiSaver funds. While this may be the case, there may yet be questions to answer on pumped up performance fees charged to Milford clients (which might also include their Kiwisaver clients), as the allegations over asset manipulation may have meant fund managers got extra money, paid for by their clients.

There are however, a number of things that need to be pointed out and deserve reinforcement.

Firstly Milford have claimed in a number of communications to the press that the investigations over asset manipulation relate to an “individual trader” at Milford, over “specific trades”.

This is misleading on Milford’s part. They do not employ anyone called a “trader”.  You can go see for yourself. Click through the various divisions of Milford to see all their staff members. No-one is called a trader. They do have a “dealer”, but this person only joined Milford in November of last year, well after the alleged manipulation took place.

What they are trying to mislead the public over is that the allegations may in fact apply to a Portfolio Manager, or perhaps a Private Wealth adviser. This changes the story materially. Portfolio managers or Private wealth advisers are big fish. They are the kinds of people who would give instructions on which shares, bonds and other financial products should belong in either an individual portfolio, or a large fund. They also stand to benefit from performance gains in portfolios with outperformance fees.   Read more »

Herald continues to keeps Milford columnist when NZ Super suspends them

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Yet again, Brian Gaynor of the besieged financial firm Milford Asset Management has his weekly column published in the NZ Herald, despite the NZ Super Fund taking the unprecedented step of suspending Milford from running any investment mandates for them.

You will recall the FMA is investigating Milford Asset Management staff and transactions for alleged manipulation of share prices for their fund and personal gain.    Read more »

Milford Asset Management are blaming “the web guy” – not taking responsibility

Milford Asset Management says it has contacted other KiwiSaver fund managers to explain an “inadvertent breach of conventions” in Google search terms used for marketing purposes.

This comes after rival fund manager Fisher Funds lodged a complaint about Milford’s use of its brand in a so-called “ambush marketing” campaign where it used other KiwiSaver providers’ names to try to attract potential customers to its own website by paying for search words.

Hence, when someone typed “Fisher kiwisaver” into Google, an ad for “Milford Fisher KiwiSaver” topped the search list with a link to the Milford website.

“It has never been our intention to use such tactics in our marketing,” Milford managing director Anthony Quirk said today.

Except that you were.   And this is yet another incident in Milford Asset Management’s murky existence.  You have to love it – a business that depends on trust more than most, and they simply don’t appear to care unless they’re caught.   Read more »

A win for the Whale…Milford pulls its ambush marketing

Weekend readers will have read the article covering the unethical behaviour of Milford Asset Manipulator’s ambush marketing of its competitors here.

The Whaleoil army can wave a victory flag this afternoon.

Milford Asset Manipulators have pulled all their Google ads where they attempted to manipulate the public into clicking into their link.

NBR is reporting:

Milford Asset Management’s woes continue as a rival fund manager lodges a fresh complaint to the FMA about ambush marketing of KiwiSaver services.

Fisher Funds boss Carmel Fisher says she is disgusted at Milford’s apparent deliberate misuse of the Fisher brand name through a Google AdWords marketing campaign.

Milford appears to have used the Fisher name to try to attract potential customers to its own website by paying for search words.

Hence, when someone typed “Fisher kiwisaver” into Google, an ad for “Milford Fisher Kiwisaver” topped the search list with a link to the Milford website.

Similar outcomes were experienced for fellow providers Generate and ANZ’s OneAnswer KiwiSaver scheme.

Milford has pulled the campaign, which was highlighted by Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil blog yesterday.    Read more »

More unethical behaviour from Milford Asset Murkiness

The tip line is running hot with financial industry people contacting us with snippets of unethical practices by Milford Asset Murkiness, excuse me, Management. Thank you for the tips – we are working to ensure the FMA is made aware of some of the alleged behaviour of Milford.

One of the more intriguing tipoffs is the proven ambush marketing Milford are engaging in with paid Google search.

There is widespread abuse by Milford in ambush marketing using Google search. This is where they use the name of one of their competitors in their own paid search result to try and confuse the person searching about Kiwisaver.

For example, one of the smaller but fast growing Kiwisaver funds operators is a firm called Generate. I’ve never heard of them before now, but they’re obviously getting some traction as they’ve won some awards recently. But tellingly, they are the victim of Milford’s ambush marketing.

If you go to Google and search for “Generate Kiwisaver”, the first link that comes up is an ad for Milford. That’s not surprising, companies will often invest heavily in making sure their own name comes up ahead of competitors in Google searches relevant to their industry.

But what the Milford Ad says is very interesting and raises questions about their ethics.

Apparently, they call themselves in their ad “Milford Generate Kiwisaver”.

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Who is the alleged Dirty Trader at Milford Asset Manipulation?

On Saturday, we covered the Herald’s ongoing publication of Brian Gaynor’s column. This is despite his firm, Milford Asset Manipulation, coming under intense scrutiny due to a complaint to the FMA from the NZX (no less) over alleged stock price management.

Hang on, I might have that wrong. I meant Milford Asset Management under fire for alleged manipulation.

It beggars believe that Gaynor still gets to publish his column in the Weekend Herald, but I guess when you advertise heavily with NZME. (the Herald’s parent company), then the Herald gives you a get-out-of-jail free card when it comes to allegations of bad news.

Given that Milford have a mandate to buy and sell shares on behalf of the NZ taxpayer, as well as the savings of tens of thousands of private citizens in NZ, I think we deserve a little more sunlight on the goings ons at this company under fire for allegations of stock manipulation. Through a process of elimination we can shine a bit more light where Milford might prefer to keep us in the dark.

We know that Milford have six portfolio managers (which have been euphemistically described as “traders”), plus Brian Gaynor himself as Executive Director and Chairman of the Investment Committee, which technically makes him ultimately responsible for his team‘s behaviour.  Read more »

Herald rewards ‘Dirty Business’ traders with ongoing column

The Herald, despite railing against ‘Dirty Politics’ for several months of last year, appear to be perfectly comfortable with ‘Dirty Business’ by publishing the business column of Brian Gaynor in this morning’s Weekend Herald.

Gaynor is the director of Milford Asset Management, the company being under allegations of stock manipulation.

Milford, who are now reputedly in bunker mode as their business reputation is shredded from multiple directions, are currently being investigated by the FMA on request of the NZX, who appear to have picked up irregularities in certain trades in technology companies.

Yet the NZX instigated complaint is not enough to stop the Herald from publishing Gaynor’s utterances – a man who has lectured the Herald readership on business ethics with great gusto.

Remember – Dirty Politics allegations are enough to warrant a hounding from Herald journos, but Dirty Business allegations makes you one of the team.    Read more »

Will the Herald go after their own columnist like they go after Hotchin

Herald columnist Brian Gaynor was forced to apologise to Mark Hotchin for defaming him. The Herald buried their apology to Hotchin on page B12 and never put it online.

Gaynor also famously and rather breathtakingly said about Dirty Politics:

The integrity of our capital markets is very dependent on public issuers putting the interests of investors first and having regulators willing and able to take action when there are allegation that this important principle may have been breached.

In my experience being subject to defamation claims can leave you feeling intimidated and unable to write about a controversial subject.

Hopefully our regulators haven’t felt the same level of intimation and restriction when they have been attacked though blogs, social media or other communication forums.

Which is all rather ironic given his current predicament and his admitting to being a proven defamer of others under investigation by the FMA while raging a war against them in the vehicle he used, a New Zealand Herald column.

High-profile fund manager Milford Asset Management has confirmed it is being investigated by the Financial Markets Authority over alleged market manipulation.

“The investigation concerns an individual trader employed by the firm and certain specific trades,” the company said.

“Milford and the trader concerned are co-operating fully with the FMA.”

The company said the investigation does not have implications for client funds and has no impact on day-to-day operations at Milford.

“Milford looks forward to completion of the investigation,” the firm said.

Irony pours itself into the oversized wine glasses of Auckland’s financial community, as the rumours of market manipulation are confirmed as allegedly involving top firm Milford Asset Management.

Milford Asset Management is owned in part by (Saint) Brian Gaynor, whose weekly columns in the Saturday Herald have been a pillar of prudence and righteousness. Gaynor’s columns have railed forth against many in the NZ business community for the failings that he has perceived or alleged.   Read more »

Power 20% cheaper than OECD average, but Labour in denial

William Curtayne from Milford Asset Management was on ZB last night with Larry Williams.

He calmly skewers the Green/Labour terrorists for their claims about power prices in NZ.

William Curtayne on power prices (1) "William Curtayne on power prices (1)"

Meanwhile Grant Robertson has come out saying John Key is living in la-la land for saying exactly the same thing:

John Key’s claim this morning that Kiwis aren’t paying too much for their power shows just how out of touch he is, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Grant Robertson.

“John Key should tell that to the Kiwis who dread opening their power bill every month, who think twice about turning the heater on and worry that it’s too expensive to have the electric blanket going this early in the year.  Read more »