Changes to Square Mile's Academy of Funds

From 15th June 2020, the login requirement for the Academy of Funds will be removed and you will no longer need to sign into the Square Mile website to access our comprehensive fund research, adviser focussed content and independent thinking.

If you have opted in to receive regular updates from Square Mile, you will continue to receive our monthly newsletter and ad-hoc communications. You can unsubscribe from marketing at any time, by selecting the unsubscribe link in our communications, at which point we will not send any further marketing information to you.

If you do not currently receive Square Mile communications, you can opt in by subscribing to our updates here.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Jake Moeller joins Square Mile

Square Mile Investment Consulting and Research (Square Mile) confirms the appointment of Jake Moeller as Senior Investment Consultant. In this new role, Jake will provide support to Diane Earnshaw, Square Mile’s Head of Consulting, in managing the company’s consulting output, as well as maintaining relationships with a number of investment consulting clients. Jake will also have a focus on research relating to ESG and responsible investing. In addition, he will be a lead media spokesperson.

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AXA Framlington UK Select Opportunities Awarded an A Rating

In response to Chris St John assuming responsibility of this fund at the start of 2019, we adjusted our rating to a Positive Prospect (PP). We made this decision because, although we acknowledged Mr St John's experience and long-term track record running UK mid and small cap equities strategies, we felt that, at that point, his fund management capabilities had not yet been fully tested in terms of running money further up the market cap scale. However, having monitored his progress, and indeed success, over the intervening period, we believe that we are now in a position to upgrade the fund to an A rating within our Academy of Funds.

We hold Mr St John in high regard and look forward to seeing how the fund progresses under his tenure.

Rating removal for Jupiter European Special Situations and JGF Jupiter European Opportunities

Jupiter Asset Management has announced that the manager of the Jupiter European Special Situations and JGF Jupiter European Opportunities funds, Cedric de Fonclare, will be leaving the firm at the end of May 2020. The management of the funds will be transitioned to Mark Nichols and Mark Heslop, who invest in this region with a different investment approach to Mr de Fonclare. We have therefore taken the decision to remove our ratings of both funds given the impending change of management. We wish Mr de Fonclare all the best.

Vanguard SRI Global Stock retains Responsible Recommended rating

Today Vanguard have implemented a number of changes to the Vanguard SRI Global Stock fund, and we have retained our Responsible Recommended rating. Firstly, the fund's name will change to Vanguard ESG Developed World All Cap Equity Index, as will its benchmark, to the FTSE Developed All Cap ex Controversies/Non-Renewable Energy/Vice Products/Weapons index (previously the FTSE Developed index). The fund will now be seeking to fully replicate the new index (previously an optimised approach), which in addition to the existing exclusions, will now also exclude any investment into stocks on issues with regards to Adult Entertainment, Alcohol, Gambling, Weapons and Non-renewable energy (including Fossil Fuels and Nuclear) and companies that breached the UN Global Compact principles. The fund's Ongoing Charge Figure (OCF) has also been reduced from 0.22% per annum to 0.20% per annum. Overall Square Mile has a positive view on the changes, however, we would highlight that the fund will have a higher allocat ...

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Baillie Gifford Global Alpha Growth fund retains AA rating

Baillie Gifford has announced that Charles Plowden, a Joint Senior Partner at the firm and one of three portfolio managers of the Baillie Gifford Global Alpha Growth fund, will be retiring on 30 April 2021. At the partnership level, Mr Plowden will continue as Joint Senior Partner with Andrew Telfer until 30 April 2021 and upon his retirement Malcolm MacColl will become Joint Senior Partner, working alongside Mr Telfer. At the fund level, Mr Plowden will continue to co-manage the Global Alpha Growth fund with fellow managers, Mr MacColl and Spencer Adair over the next year. However, the firm has appointed Helen Xiong, who currently serves as co-manager on the group's American fund, to join the Global Alpha team on 1 June 2020, and to formally assume co-management responsibility alongside Messers MacColl and Adair, upon Mr Plowden's departure. As Mr Plowden currently remains in situ at this juncture, we have decided to retain our AA rating on the Baillie Gifford Global Alpha Growth fund. We will be ...

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An update from Square Mile

In this short video, Square Mile's Managing Director, Richard Romer-Lee, provides an update on the business in these extraordinary and challenging times.

Rating suspension for the Matthews Asia Small Companies fund

We have decided to suspend the rating of the Matthews Asia Small Companies fund, following the announcement today of the departure of the lead manager Lydia So. Ms So has been managing the Asia Small Companies strategy (which includes a US domiciled version) since 2008, with notable success under her tenure. We wish her all the best. She will be replaced by Tiffany Hsiao, who was previously co-manager on this fund and who is the lead manager of the Matthews China Small Companies fund, which has a Positive Prospect rating. We are looking to have a discussion with Ms Hsiao in the coming weeks to understand her plans going forward and will update investors once we have more clarity in this regard.

Rating removal for the Invesco Global Financial Capital fund

Following a period of review we have decided to remove our A rating from the Invesco Global Financial Capital fund. This is a strategy we have been monitoring closely as we have been aware of outflows causing a decline in its level of assets and following a significant drawdown in Q1 2020, the fund's AUM currently stands below £20m. The fund has also produced a disappointing performance profile and has shown weakness against its composite benchmark for some time.

We appreciate the fund's specialist remit but given the concerns mentioned, we do not anticipate any significant investor demand for the strategy in the immediate future. We therefore feel it appropriate to remove the fund from our Academy.

Why have UK equities fallen behind?

While the Covid-19 disease is first and foremost having a devastating effect on human life, we turn our attention to the effect it is having on stock markets and specifically, the UK equity market. Over the first three and a half months of this year, the UK equity market has fallen more than all other major developed and developing equity markets, such as the US, Europe, Japan, Asia, including the Chinese market itself, which has ironically held up relatively well this year. Technology holding up well The performance of each investment sector on a global scale paints a much clearer picture as to what is going on, with the areas proving most defensive being healthcare, utility and the technology sectors. Although healthcare and utility sectors have long been associated with providing robust returns during times of crisis, owing to people still getting sick and having to keep the lights on, the technology sector is bit of an anomaly under these circumstances. However, looking at the nature of what is going ...

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