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Wealth Manager Top 100 2017: the first 25 big guns

We reveal the first 25 names in alphabetical order from our annual survey on the most influential people in fund selection across the private client industry.   

Wealth Manager Top 100

Welcome to Wealth Manager’s sixth annual Top 100, our guide to the leading fund buyers across the private client world. Once more we have drilled down into the sector to identify the key individuals powering fund selection across wealth management.

All of the companies featured this year allocate over £1 billion apiece into collectives and we are able to provide unique insight into both the size and composition of their buy lists and how they have changed over the year.

There are 24 new faces in the Top 100, reflecting both consolidation and the emergence of young talent coming through the ranks.

We will be revealing the list in alphabetical order in four parts over the course of the next week. Here are the first 25 names on the study.

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Wealth Manager Top 100

Welcome to Wealth Manager’s sixth annual Top 100, our guide to the leading fund buyers across the private client world. Once more we have drilled down into the sector to identify the key individuals powering fund selection across wealth management.

All of the companies featured this year allocate over £1 billion apiece into collectives and we are able to provide unique insight into both the size and composition of their buy lists and how they have changed over the year.

There are 24 new faces in the Top 100, reflecting both consolidation and the emergence of young talent coming through the ranks.

We will be revealing the list in alphabetical order in four parts over the course of the next week. Here are the first 25 names on the study.

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Ziad Abou Gergi

Barclays Wealth & Investment Management

Ziad Abou Gergi’s career started out researching European utilities and technology stocks. He joined Barclays’ Paris office in 2005 where he worked as an equity portfolio manager and sector analyst. He then moved to Barclays’ London office in 2011 where he became part of Barclays Wealth & Investment Management’s multi-manager team.

Now Abou Gergi is responsible for looking at the US, selecting and managing US-only equity funds and mandates. He sits on the investment committee, Barclays’ asset allocation committee and heads the alternatives fund selection team.

In regards to current charges, Abou Gergi feels he is getting good value for money due to the recent downtrend in fund charges. He says, however, ‘the competition from cheap passive solutions and the need for a positive after fees risk-adjusted return is increasing the need for good and skilled managers and manager selectors’.

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Daniel Adams

Psigma Investment Management

Daniel Adams joined Psigma in 2007 and trained as an investment manager specialising in private client portfolio construction. He soon moved to the investment team where he is currently a senior analyst, focusing on collective investments and asset allocation. The firm manages £2.8 billion in assets and its buy list mainly features actively managed funds, with no ETFs or smart beta products.

Although a believer in the value that good active managers add over time, Adams thinks that the annual management charges paid for active funds will drop. ‘Managers are being judged (unrealistically) across shorter and shorter time periods. This is leading to funds with very small active share which consequently produce similar returns to the market. Ironically (and rightly), they are then compared with passives, given the similar return profile, which circles back to the issue of fees.’

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Craig Allen

Julius Baer

Julius Baer Guernsey managing director Craig Allen’s buy list over the last 12 months has begun to be even more focused on active management and funds with smaller asset bases.

Allen manages £550 million in personal assets under management (AUM) and oversees the investment management department of Julius Baer.

Despite all the recent noise about the price of funds, Allen broadly finds fund fees to be good value. He says: ‘In a low interest rate environment and in a highly competitive marketplace, fund houses that overcharge will soon go out of business unless they are able to deliver exceptional performance.’ Allen has allocated 35% of his AUM into 30 actively managed funds, the most recent being the Man GLG Emerging Markets Debt fund. He joined Julius Baer from Credit Suisse in early 2016, along with several colleagues.

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Ian Aylward

Barclays Wealth & Investment Management

Ian Aylward is responsible for the running of £15 billion of assets at Barclays Wealth & Investment Management. He joined the firm last year as head of manager and fund selection from Aviva Investors where he had worked for six years.

In the current economic environment, Aylward does not feel he is getting good value for money with fund charges, noting the ‘fee pressure is significant’. Overall, he expects the AMCs that he pays for active funds to fall.

Prior to Barclays, Aylward was a UK equity fund manager with the CIS followed by Rothschild Asset Management. He then spent 10 years of his career at Old Mutual Wealth.

Looking back on 2017, Aylward comments that the firm’s buy list has evolved by cutting back alternative Ucits funds and adding some ESG funds instead.

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Genevra Banszky von Ambroz

Smith & Williamson

Genevra Banszky von Ambroz has been a member of Smith & Williamson’s multi-manager team since January 2010, and in four years worked her way up to become deputy fund manager on S&W’s Defensive Growth and MM Global Investment funds. Months later she also became deputy fund manager on the firm’s MM Endurance Balanced fund.

As part of her role, Banszky von Ambroz also coordinates Smith & Williamson’s conventional investment companies recommended list and is responsible for the non-property asset-backed funds recommended list, which primarily includes infrastructure, renewable energy and asset leasing funds. In addition, she is a member of the firm’s managed portfolio service investment committee. She is responsible for £320 million in assets under management, while the firm manages £19.2 billion in total.

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Haig Bathgate

Tcam Asset Management

Haig Bathgate is unimpressed by smart beta funds, or ‘dumb beta plus smart marketing’ he quotes economist James Montier as saying. He believes passive strategies are not as cheap as many think. Therefore the Tcam co-CEO and CIO has the highest percentage of the firm’s assets under management, at 65%, allocated to actively managed unitised funds, with zero in either exchange-traded funds and smart beta. In total, Tcam has £1 billion of assets under management, with Bathgate personally overseeing £127 million.

Bathgate led a buyout of Tcam alongside co-CEO Alex Montgomery in 2015 and says there have been three key changes to the buy list over the past year: a tilt of equity exposure towards value, a move to diversify client portfolios away from traditional fixed interest exposure and the addition of LGT Long Volatility to its list, as part of the firm’s protection strategy.

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Derek Beatty

Julius Baer

Julius Baer’s Derek Beatty sees the active versus passive debate as largely unnecessary, noting that there is a time and a place for both.

However, this year is clearly not the time for passives, according to Beatty, who described selling out of all his passive holdings as his best investment call over the past 12 months.

Although he sees annual management changes coming down in the future, he says he ‘fundamentally believes in active management’ and does not mind paying active fees for strong risk-adjusted returns.

Beatty is currently a senior portfolio manager at Julius Baer, where he runs multi-asset portfolios. Prior to joining Julius Baer at the start of 2016, Beatty spent 11 years at Credit Suisse’s wealth management division in Guernsey, London and Sydney.

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Thomas Becket

Psigma Investment Management

Having diverted considerably from the original subject of his studies, Becket, a classics graduate who dislikes people eating on commuter trains, joined Psigma in 2004 and stayed on to become its chief investment officer.

He is also responsible for a network of contacts throughout the UK, Europe, America and the Far East and looks after the firm’s managed portfolio service, and investment selection process.

He says that the firm’s buy list, which is spread across actively managed and closed-ended funds, alternative Ucits and segregated mandates, has become more concentrated and now comprises only 32 funds.

‘The investment world has become a place where there is far too little focus on investing for the long term,’ he says. ‘The good news is that the obsessive focus investors have with previous winners is affording us the opportunity to make a lot of money for our investors in genuinely contrarian opportunities.’

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Marcus Blyth

Investec Wealth & Investment

Marcus Blyth says he ‘perfectly timed’ his entry into the industry in July 2007, when he joined GAM as a hedge fund manager within its multi-manager department. He managed to evade a number of redundancies related to the global financial crisis and left GAM in 2011 for Architas.

He then moved to Kleinwort Benson where he spent just over 18 months, finally ending up at Investec Wealth & Investment, where he now heads coverage of Asia and emerging markets third party funds, as well as co-managing the firm’s UK fund coverage. Personally, he oversees £4.5 billion.

He believes that annual management charges for active funds will fall in the future, noting: ‘There is no doubt we are in a scenario akin to a supermarket price war as management houses look to benefit and leverage from economies of scale. This is why we are seeing an increase in merger activity in preparation to remain competitive.’

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William Bolger

Société Générale

William Bolger began his career in the offshore fund management, and corporate and institutional client services departments at the Royal Bank of Canada in the early 2000s.

In 2010, Bolger joined SG Hambros as a funds analyst for the SGPB Fund Solutions team, specialising in fund selection for use throughout the private bank globally.

Currently based in the Channel Islands, Bolger, as well as being the Guernsey office head, is responsible for chairing the Société Générale private banking advisory fund selection committee. This comprises a team of 10 experienced fund specialists from across Europe, tasked with selecting the most suitable third party investment strategies from Lyxor Investment Partners’ buy list for clients throughout the Société Générale private banking network.

Out of his huge buy list of around 2,500 different funds, 2,000 are exchange-traded funds (ETF). Bolger personally runs £1 billion in assets under advice and management.

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Alex Brandreth

Brown Shipley

Evidently pleased with his decision to increase his asset allocation in both Asia and emerging markets, Alex Brandreth reports it has been a strong contributor to performance this year.

Brandreth personally manages £335 million of Brown Shipley’s total AUM. While a large proportion of its buy list is made up of actively managed unitised funds, Brandreth recognises the scope for fee reduction in the market. He describes the fee gap between active and passive funds as ‘at an extreme’ and expects the AMCs paid for active funds to fall as Mifid II provides greater focus on fees within the industry.

Brandreth joined Brown Shipley in 2010 and became head of structured products in 2015. Shortly afterwards he also took on the role of deputy chief investment officer in 2016, alongside managing Brown Shipley’s model portfolio service across a number of platforms.

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Lydia Brook

LGT Vestra

Lydia Brook may have studied chemistry at UCL, but it was the investment industry that won her over. She started her career on the graduate scheme at Barclays Investment Bank where she spent two years focused on equity derivatives and structured products. In 2016 she joined LGT Vestra as a fund analyst covering long-only equity funds and structured products, a position she holds to date.

Brook, whose aim was to pursue a career in research, says that aside from using certain automated reports for performance analysis research, the process at LGT Vestra is not automated.

The company has £8.8 billion in assets under management, of which 40% is allocated to active funds and only 3% to ETFs.

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Ross Brookes

Charles Stanley

As head of collectives research at Charles Stanley, Ross Brookes oversees the wealth manager’s 186-strong buy list, which he says has come down in size over the past year.

Brookes has over 13 years’ investment research experience and joined Charles Stanley in September 2008, becoming team head in 2013. As part of this role, he also sits on the firm’s investment committee.

Looking at future industry trends, he believes active management fees will come under ‘continued pressure from the passive industry’, noting ‘investors are less prepared to overpay for closet trackers’. He also believes ESG will continue to grow in importance, saying: ‘We subscribe to the view that good corporate governance can lead to better investment outcomes and ESG criteria form a sizeable part of the DDQ [due diligence questions] sent to all funds we interview.’

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Rosie Bullard

James Hambro & Partners

Rosie Bullard started her career at HSBC as an investment assistant straight after graduating from Durham University in 2004. She moved a year later to UBS, where she was promoted to a director at the age of just 27. She went on to join James Hambro & Partners in 2013 as a portfolio manager and became a partner in 2016.

Bullard specialises in looking after the affairs of private clients, trusts and charities, and runs £300 million of client assets. Her best investment call this year has been to focus on individual stock selection and funds, noting exposure to technology has helped performance. On this theme, she highlights Citywire A-rated managers Nick Evans and Ben Rogoff’s Polar Capital Global Tech fund as a top pick.

The average annual management charge she pays for funds is 0.75%, but in the long run, Bullard expects this figure to fall.

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Adam Burniston

Thesis Asset Management

Over the past 12 months, Thesis Asset Management has increased the number of absolute return funds on its buy list, despite Adam Burniston’s wariness of ‘absolute return funds that return absolutely nothing’.

Joining Thesis from a tech firm where he worked as a business analyst, Burniston was put in charge of US, Japan and global equity, infrastructure and property as a fund and research analyst. He chooses funds and manages £220 million of the firm’s assets. Promoted to his current role as model portfolio manager, he runs Thesis’s model portfolio service on its nominee and multiple platforms.

When seeding funds, Burniston says he looks for genuine investment acumen, a strong pedigree, fund philosophy and strategy, as well as a share class deal that will benefit investors.

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James Burns

Smith & Williamson

A partner at Smith & Williamson, James Burns joined the firm a year after graduating from the University of St. Andrews in 1998 with a master’s in management. He started working on the investment trust desk in 2001, and now co-heads the firm’s managed portfolio service and leads the multi manager team, responsible for managing £350 million of client assets. He also sits on S&W’s asset allocation policy committee.

He says his best investment call this year has been a couple of special situation discounts plays in the investment trust sector that have both subsequently been taken over. Burns also says that automation and artificial intelligence is increasingly becoming part of his investment process, but the trend of environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria is not currently part of his thinking, when it comes to investments.

Burns is a member of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI), and outside of fund management lists golf, tennis, rugby, football and theatre among his interests, as well as hockey, a sport in which he represented Scotland between 1996 and 2003.

His top pick is the City Financial Absolute Equity fund, managed by David Crawford, which has returned 31.4% over three years to the end of July, compared to the sector average of 11.9% (see graph). Burns says the fund had a ‘rocky performance’ last year but has bounced back ‘pretty strongly’ and also has a good historical performance.

He adds that it seems to be able to ‘make money in different market conditions, which in the current climate could be invaluable’.

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Adam Carruthers

Charles Stanley

‘Unashamedly qualitative’ is how Adam Carruthers, collectives analyst at Charles Stanley, describes the company’s approach to selecting fund managers, saying: ‘We take our time to fully understand a manager’s investment process with extensive questionnaires and face to face interviews.’

A chartered wealth manager, Carruthers went on to be responsible for the approved panel of funds at national IFA firms Origen and RJ Temple after graduating with a master’s in economics from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh.

He later joined Barclays Wealth as a fund manager, responsible for the day to day running of a suite of Ucits multi-manager vehicles across multiple domiciles.

At Charles Stanley he is responsible for the selection of what he deems best in class managers across all asset classes for inclusion in the company’s multi-asset class portfolios as well as its preferred list of collectives.

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Richard Carter

Quilter Cheviot

An expert in fixed income, particularly the global bond market, Richard Carter joined Quilter Cheviot in 2011 as head of fixed income research, having previously been an analyst and fund manager at Barings and BNY Mellon. As part of his role, he chairs the firm’s fixed income committee and is a member of its asset allocation and collectives committees.

Carter says his buy list has evolved over the past 12 months by adding more passive options, but stressed that the ‘vast bulk’ of the firm’s assets remain in ‘high conviction active fund choices’.

Quilter Cheviot also seeds funds and Carter says he would need to see a demonstrable and reliable track record from the fund manager to seed a fund, and also have confidence and familiarity with the company that is launching it. But he adds that his biggest investment gripe is that several companies launch funds because ‘they think they can gather assets easily even though the investment opportunity has probably already passed’.

Carter’s top pick in fixed income at the moment is the Pimco Global Investment Grade Credit fund (see graph), which he says has a very strong track record and ‘benefits from the huge depth of resources at Pimco’. He adds that it also provides a way of accessing a wider opportunity set than is available in pure UK corporate bond funds.

On a personal note, Carter says that his pet peeve is that his children are growing up ‘way too fast’ and his hair is ‘getting more grey everyday’, adding ‘the two are probably linked’.

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Navin Chauhan

Quilter Cheviot

As an investment fund analyst at Quilter Cheviot, Navin Chauhan covers regional long-only equity funds and investment trusts. His main focus is pan-European equities, infrastructure, private equity, property and passive investments.

With a degree in computer systems engineering and a masters in investment management, Chauhan started his career as an analyst at Deutsche Bank and moved on to hold similar roles at Russell Investments and Bank of America Merrill Lynch before joining Quilter Cheviot in 2012.

Chauhan is part of the investment fund research team which is responsible for £13.2 billion of the firm’s £22.5 billion in assets under management. He says his best investment call this year has been investing in the Old Mutual UK Smaller Companies Focus fund and highlights its manager, Nick Williamson, as his hidden gem. The most recent addition to the firm’s 321-strong buy list has been the Robo Global Robotics and Autmotation Go Ucits ETF.

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Tim Cockerill

Rowan Dartington

After spending seven years at Ashcourt Rowan, where he was head of collective investments, Tim Cockerill joined Rowan Dartington, alongside his colleague Guy Stephens. The pair joined the firm in July 2011 shortly after Capita managing director of wealth and distribution services Graham Coxell led a consortium that bought out the company.

A former Wealth Manager cover star, Cockerill brings over 20 years’ experience to his current role of investment director at Rowan Dartington. The majority of his career has been in fund research and portfolio management. After he joined Rowan Dartington, Cockerill and Stephens, who at the time had worked together for 10 years, got to work on overhauling the investment proposition, with Cockerill taking charge of establishing a new investment process.

Aside from his senior position at the Bristol-based wealth manager, he is a regular commentator in the press.

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David Coombs

Rathbones

Highlighted by Rathbone Unit Trust Management chief executive Mike Webb in a profile interview with Wealth Manager as an ‘incredible’ fund manager with ‘great loyalty to the business’, Citywire AAA-rated David Coombs was brought over to the funds side of the firm from the private client division after Webb recognised his ‘latent potential’.

Head of multi-asset investments at the firm, Coombs joined Rathbones in 2007 after spending a long stint of his career at Barings. He was at the company for 20 years, having joined from Hambros in 1988, and managed institutional and private client funds via pooled vehicles and segregated accounts.

At Rathbones, Coombs is responsible for developing its investment propositions for financial advisers and networks. He is the lead manager for the Rathbones Multi-Asset Portfolio funds and the offshore equivalents domiciled in Jersey. He also co-manages the firm’s Strategic Bond fund.

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Emma Corbishley

UBS

Associate director Emma Corbishley currently plays a key role in fund analysis at UBS Wealth Management’s office in London. Since joining from EY in 2011, Corbishley has also been managing the firm’s exposure for a number of asset classes within UK discretionary mandates. She is a CFA charterholder.

With a focus on equities, bonds and property, Corbishley’s analysis currently covers the UK, Europe, Asia, the US and Japan.

Corbishley would like to see a standardised approach to factsheets within the fund industry and is of the belief that many factsheets are not fit for purpose. While she acknowledges that this is not a legal requirement, she feels that clients will expect a suitable factsheet to be available. She also takes issue with fund providers that are slow to give requested information, while simultaneously sharing information on other products that has not been requested.

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Ian Crispo

Deutsche Bank Wealth Management

Within the global products and solutions group at Deutsche Bank Wealth Management, Ian Crispo heads hedge fund and mutual fund selection. He is specifically responsible for selecting and monitoring liquid fund investments for the bank’s global platforms.

After graduating from Essec Business School in Paris, he worked as a management consultant. He joined Deutsche Bank in 2005 and holds a variety of roles within the alternative investment and hedge funds areas. Aside from fund research, he also provides input on the bank’s model portfolios and oversees £15 billion in assets.

In the buy list, Crispo says that the number of unconstrained fixed income strategies, especially in emerging market debt, has increased over the last 12 months, as well as the number of liquid alternatives with a focus on relative value. It features 200 actively managed unitised funds and 500 ETFs.

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Peter Dalgliesh

Parmenion Capital Partners

Peter Dalgliesh started his financial career as a graduate trainee at Baring Asset Management. More than two decades and a few positions later, he joined Parmenion in 2012 where he became the managing director of its investment management business.

Although Dalgliesh spent 17 years running Asia Pacific and emerging markets funds at firms such as Jupiter Asset Management and Gartmore, he now concentrates on almost every part of the world, looking at equities, bonds, alternatives, property and commodities.

The firm’s £3.7 billion in assets under management is split 55% in actively managed funds and 45% in passively managed, while the buy list has a typical annual turnover of 20-30%. Dalgliesh says the firm’s hidden gem is its consistent risk framework, highlighting the Miton UK Multi Cap Income fund as the most recent addition to the buy list.

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James Davies

Close Brothers Asset Management

James Davies is an investment manager and senior fund research specialist working on Close Brothers Asset Management’s (CBAM) manager research teams. He is also co-manager of the Close Managed funds.

He began his career at Chartwell, joining in 2003 and progressing to head the firm’s fund research in 2006. Chartwell was acquired by Close Brothers the following year and he moved across as part of the deal.

Davies has been running discretionary portfolios since 2009 and currently oversees £600 million personally. He cites the Jupiter European Opportunities investment trust as his top performer over the last year and says that CBAM has also been adding more emerging market equity funds, including KLS Sloane Robinson Emerging Markets, to the firm’s 130-strong buy list.

Looking ahead, he believes annual management fees on active funds will fall further as ‘funds will increasingly have to justify their charges’.

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