Square Mile introduces the Liontrust Sustainable Future Corporate Bond, Vanguard SRI Global Stock and Vanguard SRI European Stock funds to the Academy of Funds

We are delighted to announce a bolstering to the responsible investment funds that we recommend on the Square Mile Academy of Funds.

We have awarded the Liontrust Sustainable Future Corporate Bond fund an A rating and the Vanguard SRI Global Stock and Vanguard SRI European Stock funds 'Recommended' ratings respectively.

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Fund manager changes at Merian Global Investors

Richard Buxton has stepped down as CEO of Merian Global Investors (MGI) with immediate effect in order to solely focus on investment matters. Although he will remain on the firm's board, he has passed over CEO responsibilities to MGI's former non-executive director Mark Gregory.

Mr Buxton remains invested in the business and as head of UK equities. He will also remain as manager of the Merian UK Alpha fund, and therefore we will continue to support the strategy with a AA rating.

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New Baillie Gifford, First State and M&G Talking Factsheets have been added to the Academy

We have added four new Talking Factsheets to the Square Mile Academy of Funds, featuring Research Manager, Amaya Assan and Head of Risk Based Solutions Research, Alex Farlow, reviewing the objectives and risks and giving their view of the funds.

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Fund Suspension

Following the news that long-time manager of the JPM Unconstrained Bond fund, Nick Gartside, is leaving JP Morgan, we have suspended our A rating on the fund. Co-manager, Iain Stealey, remains in place, as do the wider team who feed into this fund, and this gives us comfort. We would, however, like to meet Mr Stealey and hear what plans JP Morgan have to further strengthen the management team of this fund. We have suspended our rating whilst JP Morgan make any changes and we have a chance to assess them properly.

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Square Mile hires John Lester as Business Development Director

Square Mile Investment Consulting and Research, announces the appointment of John Lester as a Business Development Director bolstering its sales team. He joins from Investec Asset Management where he was Sales Director of strategic partnerships for 6 years.

At Square Mile, John will be responsible for developing consulting business and managed portfolio services with financial advisers, life companies and platforms, as well as managing client relationships.

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Fund rating change for the AXA UK Select Opportunities fund

Following an extensive and successful career, this fund's longstanding manager, Nigel Thomas, will be retiring in March 2019. In preparation for his departure, he will be handing over the management of this fund to the fund's co-manager, Chris St John, on the 31st December 2018. Mr St John has been the manager of the A rated AXA Framlington UK Mid Cap fund since 2011, and he has also been the manager of this fund's offshore equivalent, the AXA World Funds Framlington UK fund, since its launch in 2016.

We acknowledge Mr St John's experience and long-term track record running UK mid and small cap equities strategies, but his fund management capabilities are yet to be fully tested at the upper end of the market cap range.

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Square Mile introduces the Allianz Index-Linked Gilt fund to the Academy of Funds

We are pleased to announce the introduction of the Allianz Index-Linked Gilt fund into the Square Mile Academy of Funds as a Positive Prospect. Whilst this fund has only recently been launched (February 2018), we believe that the fund's manager, Mike Riddell, is a very capable investor. His previous management of a similar fund at M&G, as well as his more recent management of the Allianz Gilt Yield fund, give us confidence that investors seeking exposure to this asset class will be well served in this fund.

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Talking With Hans Georgeson, CEO at Architas

Han Georgeson, CEO, Architas talks culture, rising regulation and climbing with Richard Romer-Lee, Square Mile. 

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Fund Rating Removals and Suspensions

Following this morning's announcement of Stephen Snowden's (co-head of fixed income) departure from Kames Capital, along with three further managers in the Kames Capital Fixed Income team, Juan Valenzuela, David Ennett and Stephen Baines, we have removed our rating from the following three funds:

Kames Investment Grade Bond
Kames Sterling Corporate Bond
Kames Ethical Corporate Bond

The changes to the fixed income team at Kames Capital have been significant over the last 18 months, with at least 9 key departures. Whilst there are still some very good investors on the team, we are cognisant that the business now faces the considerable task of rebuilding their fixed income team, both managers and credit analysts, whilst maintaining their investment process.

We are also suspending our ratings on the following multi-asset funds...

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Fund Rating Removals

Following a lengthy review, we have take the decision to remove the ratings of the BMO European Smaller Companies ex UK fund and its Luxembourg-domiciled, pan European sister strategy, the BMO European Smaller Companies fund.

Both of these funds have struggled to achieve their investment objectives in recent years and although we acknowledge that the managers and their supporting team have made some efforts to address these performance issues, our conviction in the managers' stock selection abilities has waned.

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