From the category archives: Ratings Roundup
We are delighted to award an AA rating to the Allianz Strategic Bond fund. Using the discretionary global macro approach which they created, this fund's managers combine exposures to interest rates, credit, inflation and currencies in order to generate alpha.
We hold the fund's managers and their unconstrained, contrarian and high conviction approach in high regard and we believe that their abilities have been clearly demonstrated by the fact that they have been able to deliver strong returns, with a close to zero correlation to equities, across different market environments. Thus, providing an attractive source of diversification for investors' portfolios.
Following our update meeting with Nick Evans, the manager of the Polar Capital Global Technology fund, we can confirm that the fund will be soft closed from the 13th July. New investors will be unable to access the fund and any requests to purchase the fund on platforms will be blocked.
This soft closure will allow the two co-managers to focus on managing the assets already in the strategy and to continue to provide a high level of service to existing clients. The soft closure does not reflect on any immediate concerns with the size of the fund or Mr Evans’s ability to trade stocks in the market. That said, soft closing the fund will allow the managers to remain nimble in their allocation to smaller and medium sized companies.
We retain full conviction in the strategy and its managers and the fund maintains its A rating.
We are pleased to announce the reinstatement of the Baillie Gifford Multi Asset Growth fund into the Academy with an A rating. This fund was suspended in July 2019 following the announcement that, team head at the time, Patrick Edwardson, was retiring and would depart the business in April 2020. Since this time we have met with the remaining team members on a number of occasions and are satisfied that collectively they continue to have the necessary experience and resources to be able to deliver on the fund's longer term investment objectives.
We are pleased to announce an A rating on the Fidelity Short Dated Corporate Bond fund.
This fund leverages on Fidelity's existing resources across the sterling corporate bond market with strategies like Moneybuilder Income fund, although providing a different output. Following the same philosophy and principles, the Fidelity Short Dated Corporate Bond fund is designed with the idea to deliver capital growth and income in a low risk manner, with a focus on high quality short dated bonds. The fund can be considered as cash substitute for investors who are willing to tolerate a higher level of volatility than cash, but can be rewarded with a higher income over time.
We like the relatively simple nature of the fund and the consistent process which the manager employs. Whilst this is not a strategy that will keep pace with wider credit markets in an up trend, it is also unlikely to produce any nasty surprises for investors.
Following today's announcement that Liontrust will acquire the UK investment business of Architas from AXA S.A, we have retained our Recommended rating on the Architas Multi-Asset (MA) Active range of funds.
Whilst we acknowledge the corporate change, we believe that, in the near term, there will be little meaningful impact on the UK investment business and in particular the Multi-Asset Active fund range. At this time there are no planned changes to either the investment philosophy or the way the funds are managed. The lead manager of the range, Nathan Sweeney, along with other members of the UK investment business will move to Liontrust as part of this deal. The completion of the deal remains subject to regulatory and shareholder approval and is expected before the end of the year. We will continue to monitor developments and provide further updates in due course.
Following the news today that Bambos Hambi, Head of Multi Manager Strategies at ASI, is leaving the business, we will be retaining our Recommended ratings on the MyFolio Multi Manager, Managed and Market range of funds. Mr Hambi's day to day fund management responsibilities for the funds had been reducing over the last few years and the ranges where he had responsibilities all have co-manager structures in place. We will monitor the fund ranges closely over the coming months to ensure Mr Hambi's departure does not cause any material changes. However, we remain comfortable that the ongoing level of resources and the experience of the remaining team will continue to support the funds' successfully.
We are pleased to award an A rating to the GAM Star Japan Leaders fund. This fund is run by a pair of experienced managers who seek to invest in a portfolio of 20 to 30, high quality, large and medium sized companies, each with a competitive advantage. The managers have followed their investment approach since 2008 and given Japanese market conditions over that period, we believe that very few investors could emulate a similar level of success.
We see this as a differentiated strategy, offering investors access to a selection of leading Japanese companies and feel the managers' ability to identify attractive opportunities sets this fund apart from many of its peers.
Following today's announcement that Alan Rowsell, lead manager of the ASI Global Smaller Companies fund, will be leaving the firm, we have decided to suspend our A rating on the fund.
The fund will now be jointly managed by Kirsty Desson, who is the fund's existing co-manager, and industry veteran Harry Nimmo, who is co-manager of the ASI Global Mid Cap fund and lead manager on the ASI UK Smaller Companies fund. Mr Nimmo was also a co-manager (alongside Mr Rowsell) of the Global Smaller Companies fund at its launch. Given the level of continuity, our plan is to arrange a meeting with the co-managers in the near future to discuss the changes and long-term plans for the fund and team more generally. We will provide an update following this meeting.
We are pleased to announce an A rating on the Royal London Short Duration Gilts fund. The fund is one of only two open ended funds that provides exposure to the 0-5 year portion of the UK government bond (gilt) market. We believe this low risk exposure can be particularly beneficial for portfolio builders mandated to hold gilts and who want to avoid the high level of interest rate risk contained in the full gilt market.
We know the team at Royal London well, having covered them on other strategies for many years. Whilst it is not ideal that the performance of this fund has lagged its index over time, we have been impressed with the recent updates to the investment process and are pleased to see this underperformance narrow. Indeed, we believe that the managers have a good chance of delivering their index outperformance objective, net of fees, in the years ahead.
We are pleased to announce an upgrade to the Allianz Index-Linked Gilt fund from a Positive Prospect to an A rating. This upgrade is a reflection of our increased conviction in the managers and their investment strategy.
Despite only launching in February 2018, the fund's managers have delivered a compelling track record over what has been a volatile period. The well-deserved A rating is a mark of our confidence that the managers will be able to continue to deliver attractive relative returns over the years ahead.