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Focke's 16-year reign on Smith & Williamson US fund draws to a close
by Robert St George on Sep 24, 2013 at 10:17
Current lead, Lady Tana Focke, who has managed the fund since 1997, will continue to work on the fund until her retirement.
Royle was appointed as the fund’s assistant manager in December 2008, and was promoted to joint manager last year.
Focke (pictured) will remain as the lead investor in sectors such as healthcare, oil and retail.
In an attempt to buck the fund’s recent underperformance - it has returned 53% over the past three years, lagging the S&P 500’s 65% and Royle intends to overhaul its portfolio to improve performance. This will involve halving the number of stocks it holds, from 90 to between 40 and 50, and placing more weight on valuations.
‘We recognise that more recently we have been relatively less successful,’ said Royle. ‘These issues necessitated a review of the fund’s portfolio construction. The key finding was that we had too many filler stocks which we thought would add stability but in reality were detracting the performance of the portfolio.’
Royle additionally set the move in the context of greater investor interest in exchange-traded funds. ‘We understand that as active managers we have got to be able to justify charging active fees by beating the index over the medium to long term,’ he said.
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