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From the category archives: Ratings Roundup

Ratings Roundup

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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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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Fund Rating Removal

We have decided to remove the positive prospect rating on the BlackRock Global Multi-Asset Income fund. Whilst the fund has met its income target, its capital return has been less competitive than we would have hoped for over the nearly four years since the fund has been following its current strategy.

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Fund Rating Removal

Following the recent announcement of the impending retirement of Guy Stern in 2019, we have taken the difficult decision to remove the A rating of the Standard Life Investments Global Absolute Return Strategies (GARS) fund. Over the past 10 years Mr Stern had retained a prominent role within the group, most recently as Global Head of Multi-Asset Investing, and although he will be replaced by Aymeric Forest, who joins the firm in February 2019, we see this change in leadership as material.

Moreover, this comes at a time when the strategy has experienced an extended period of challenging performance and we have also observed a number of changes across the broader team.

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Acquisition of First State Investments by Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation (MUTB)

First State Investments, the asset management business of Commonwealth Bank of Australia, is to be acquired by Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation (MUTB), subject to the necessary regulatory approvals. MUTB is one of Japan's leading asset managers and this move represents a move to grow its presence outside if its domestic market. First State Investments has a group of autonomous specialist investment teams, which includes Stewart Investors and First State Stewart Asia and our understanding is that MUTB will not be making any significant changes to the way these teams operate.

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Rating reinstatement for the Invesco Asian fund

We are pleased to reinstate our "A" rating for the Invesco Asian fund. Having now met this fund's management team, it has reinforced our confidence in William Lam and his ongoing role on the fund.

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Fund Rating Removal

Following our most recent review of the Janus Henderson Cautious Managed fund we have taken the decision to remove it from our Academy of Funds. The fund has been under the sole management of Stephen Payne since February 2018. This has been during a period where his co-manager Chris Burvill, manager of the fund since 2003, has unfortunately been on a period of long-term absence for medical reasons. Whilst we think Mr Payne has been managing the fund in a diligent and sensible manner over this period, his longer-term track record remains unproven in a multi-asset context. Mr Payne's experience as a fund manager to date is predominantly in UK equities and not a broader multi-asset approach. We will continue to monitor the fund to see how it performs under Mr Payne's stewardship.

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Square Mile introduces the Baillie Gifford Multi Asset Growth fund to the Academy of Funds

We are pleased to announce that we have introduced the Baillie Gifford Multi Asset Growth fund into the Academy of Funds with an A rating.

The fund benefits from a credible and experienced team headed by Patrick Edwardson. The team also utilise the wider resources of the group, not least as the fund invests into underlying Baillie Gifford fund strategies for some of its asset class exposure.

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Talking With Nick Mustoe

Nick Mustoe, Chief Investment Officer, Invesco Henley Investment Centre talks being a contrarian investor, multi asset funds and karate with Richard Romer-Lee, Square Mile.

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