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Wealth Manager Top 100 2017: seven hidden fund talents to watch

Out Wealth Manager Top 100 fund selectors name the talent they believe is getting its due

We asked our Top 100 UK fund selectors to select a rising UK mandate they are backing. While the names they chose may not necessarily be the most obscure, these are the ones which received the broadest backing as developing potential.     

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We asked our Top 100 UK fund selectors to select a rising UK mandate they are backing. While the names they chose may not necessarily be the most obscure, these are the ones which received the broadest backing as developing potential.     

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Out in front by a country mile was the RobecoSAM Smart Materials fund, picked by four separate correspondents or 6.3% of the potential sample.

Headed by Citywire AA-rated Pieter Busscher the fund comes at the commodity complex from an original angle, investing in businesses seeking to harness efficiency or develop new materials.

Originally launched in 1999, investor interest in the portfolio began to bloom in 2014 in parallel with the bear market in raw materials. Fund assets doubled to $340 million (£259 million) over the year April 2015, with the company reporting UK fund selectors at the forefront of that.       

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Baillie Gifford’s Japan Income Growth fund was the second most widely picked portfolio with three managers, or 4.7% of the potential sample, naming it as their unsung hero.

Headed by Citywire AA-rated Matthew Brett with support from co-manager Karen See, the portfolio was launched just 15 months ago, and has since gathered £297 million.   

‘We are seeing improving attitudes to corporate governance in Japan,’ Brett said at launch. ‘Shareholder pay outs are increasing and there is scope for this trend to continue for many years.

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The remainder of the picks were all backed equally by two managers apiece, or 3.2% of the potential sample, and have been sorted alphabetically. First among equals was $1.5 trillion American fund titan Capital Group’s New Perspective Fund.

While the two-year old strategy runs approximately $2 billion overall it remains comparatively little-recognised in the UK, with just £193 million in sterling assets.

Headed by lead manager Steven Watson from Hong Kong the portfolio holds a range of growth stocks it believes will be among the winners of globalisation, invested globally but with an inevitable bias to the US and technology.

The last two year might not necessarily be considered an optimal period to be invested in businesses which operate across borders, but Watson pointed out the Genie is not going back into the bottle.    

‘Even if the trade in physical goods takes a hit, I think that globalisation – including the trade and flow of non-physical goods – is unstoppable,’ he pointed out.

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While many of the mandates tipped might already be considered to have scaled up, GLG UK Absolute Value Strategy is genuinely a fledgling, gathering just £56 million since launch in June.

Headed by Citywire A-rated Man GLG Undervalued Assets Jack Barrat the fund holds a long/short portfolio of London-listed midcaps, adapting a methodology previously developed for the group by Henry Dixon.     

‘We have employed an absolute value-based framework in the Man GLG Undervalued Assets Fund for a number of years in order to identify companies that we believe are undervalued by the market,’ said Barrat at launch.  

‘Leveraging the same framework to monetise the opportunities it also identifies as overvalued was the next step for the process.’

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Citywire AAA-rated Hermes Asia manager Jonathan Pines has emerged as an undisputed star of the sector during a particularly rocky period for equity investors in the region. Which is maybe why the fund has only gathered £560 million in sterling assets, although globally it runs $3.8 billion.

The manager, who won Citywire Asia’s Asia ex Japan Group Award in 2016, adopts a value led, bottom-up stock selection process which has powered the fund to third place in its peer group over the last three years, returning 79.4% versus an average 46%.

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A Citywire analysis of the UK’s most consistent outperformers highlighted A-rated Alex Savvides’ remarkable nine year run at the helm of JOHCM UK Dynamic this summer, and we are apparently not alone in our appreciation.

The value investor has succeeded in outperforming his competitors through both good and tricky periods of wider market performance – not an easy task when you are seeking discounted equity.

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Nick Williamson joined the top tier of one of the most respected – and backed – UK All Companies teams when he was promoted to head the Old Mutual UK Smaller Companies fund in 2015.

Taking over from Citywire AAA-rated Dan Nickols and working in the same range as AAA-Richard Watts, to say nothing of Richard Buxton, the manager has expanded the fund from £136 million to £357 million during his stewardship.   

'I have been working with Nick since he joined Old Mutual Global Investors in 2008,' said Nickols at the time. 'He has a great deal of stock market experience across a range of sectors, and I am very pleased that we are able to offer this career development opportunity.’

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