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Anthony Nutt: the thing I will miss most is the challenge

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Anthony Nutt: the thing I will miss most is the challenge

Jupiter's Anthony Nutt has spoken frankly about his decision to retire and highlights the things he will miss most when he walks away from his career in fund management.

In an interview Wealth Manager following the news he intends to retire in 2014, Nutt (pictured) said the challenge of outwitting markets will be among his voids.   

‘I do like a challenge and going forward the economic headwinds look like they could be stronger than anything I’ve experienced in my career.  When Andrew Haldane (Bank of England executive director) compared the economic situation to a war earlier this week, it may have been bit sensationalist but this going to be a long grind. I will miss the challenge.’

Speaking to Wealth Manager back in March, Nutt talked down suggestions he may retire soon, saying he still ‘enjoyed’ the job and felt he had the ability to deliver.  

‘I do a job that has a good deal of responsibility and if you fall below people’s expectations, you can only expect them to criticise you. I’m not the sort of person who runs away from a problem, I have never done that in my life,’ he said at the time.

The right time

However while Nutt - who turns 60 next year - does not believe he has lost his ability, he feels now is the right time for a succession plan to be installed. ‘I admit age has something to do with the decision and now is the right time to think about a succession plan over the last 12 months. I have few regrets and Jupiter is in a good position. It’s the perfect time to be handing over the funds.’

Jupiter chief investment officer (CIO) John Chatfeild-Roberts commended on Nutt’s leadership as head of UK equities and believes he has left the desk in strong shape. ‘Jupiter has an extraordinary UK desk and Anthony is seriously proud of what he has achieved and the legacy he is handing over.'

Longevity

After a spell with the Ministry of Defence Nutt entered the financial services industry in 1975 with Foster and Braithwaite. After stints with UK Provident, TSB Investment Management and Robert Fleming, he joined Jupiter in 1996 where he was given the tough challenge of replacing William Littlewood on the Income fund.

Nutt did not disappoint as a series of shrewd calls saw him surge to the top of the performance charts. However, his copybook was blotted following the financial crisis, with his exposure to media stocks such as Yell and Johnston Press weighing heavily.

This is underlined by recent performance, with his Jupiter Income fund suffering a loss of 2.75% in the five years to the end of October versus a 5.2% gain in the FTSE All share over the same period.  

Nutt was also hit by selling out of miners in 2007, which initially looked like a good decision as the sector slumped in the following year but exposed him when it rallied in 2009.

While he was criticised for the move he cites it as one of the calls he is proudest of in a career spanning five decades.

‘We made a lot of money on Antofagasta and Lonmin, the latter of which we sold at around £45 before it slumped and it now trades at £2. I stand by my decision and still feel proud. It was obvious to me that miners would struggle once they had been forced reduce capital expenditure.’ 

Overall Nutt has been right more times than wrong as underlined by his long term track record, which has seen his Income fund return 352.2% since he took control in 1996 versus a sector average of 161%.

The successor

One of the people tasked with filling Nutt’s shoes is Ben Whitmore, who will take control of the Income fund from the start of next year.

Whitmore, who runs an income mandate in the institutional space, has established an impressive record on the Jupiter UK Special Situations fund and believes he has the ability to run the funds alongside each other. ‘Tony and I are both contrarian investors and hunt in similar area and focus on strong stock selection.’ 

While Nutt may have struggled of late he remains completely comfortable with his positioning after recently increasing his cash position to around 9%.

‘Given the market uncertainty I’m completely happy with the way I’m positioned. There isn’t anywhere else I’d rather be in the market.’  

Whether Whitmore is as comfortable with the fund’s positioning remains to be seen.

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John Chatfeild-Roberts
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