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Ions defends Liontrust performance as ‘dash to trash’ hurts
by Eleanor Lawrie on Mar 13, 2014 at 09:49
John Ions, chief executive of Liontrust, has robustly defended his managers’ performance after several of the firm’s funds were bottom quartile last year.
Liontrust’s Special Situations , UK Growth and UK Smaller Companies funds, run by AA-rated Anthony Cross and Julian Fosh, were all bottom quartile over the year to the end of 2013, but first quartile since launch or manager tenure. At the end of January, Special Situations was third quartile and UK Smaller Companies was second quartile.
‘Cross and Fosh had a harder year last year, with quantitative easing and a move away from quality to risk-on type assets,’ Ions (pictured) said.
‘They have a very rigid process that drives them away from banks and miners. We debate what’s in the portfolio on a regular basis.’
He added he would only stop backing a fund when ‘the fund manager loses confidence in his process’, something he has not experienced yet.
Ions, who has been at the helm of the company since 2010, said managers James Inglis-Jones and Samantha Gleave also suffered in the ‘dash to trash’, with their four European funds all bottom quartile in one year to the end of January.
‘The process very much lends itself towards quality. Quality on a global screening basis last year underperformed, it was much more risk-on and value,’ he said, adding that the managers had become more positive on the outlook for Europe.
Ions added he was not phased by the fund groups pricing war sparked by the Retail Distribution Review.
‘We have set our stall out saying this is the process, this is how we run money,' he said.
'We are not benchmark constrained so we are not playing that index plus game, we are going to stand or fall on whether we produce the returns and therefore whether we charge 65 or 75 basis points at the end of the day is irrelevant. It only becomes important if we don’t deliver what we say we are going to deliver.’
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- Liontrust Special Situations Fund (R)
- Liontrust UK Growth Fund (R)
- Liontrust UK Smaller Companies Fund (R)
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Look up the fund managers
- Anthony Cross
- Julian Fosh
- James Inglis-Jones
- Samantha Gleave
- Jan Luthman
- Stephen Bailey
- Neil Woodford