Square Mile Investment Consulting & Research has added five new funds to its Academy of Funds.

Invesco Sterling Bond
Rating: AAA
Outcome: Capital Accumulation, Income

The Invesco Sterling Bond fund invests predominantly in investment grade corporate bonds denominated in, or whose currency exposure is hedged back to, sterling.  It is run by Michael Matthews, a member of the highly experienced fixed income team which is based at Invesco Perpetual's Henley office and which also includes Paul Read and Paul Causer.  The fund is similar in nature to the Invesco Perpetual Corporate Bond fund which was awarded a rating of AAA by Square Mile at the launch of our Academy of Funds last month.  We have now extended our coverage to include this offshore sister fund, which invests along the same lines as the onshore version, but which has more flexibility in its mandate and will tend to have slightly larger positions than the Corporate Bond fund.  We are awarding the Invesco Sterling Bond fund a AAA rating.

BlackRock Global Funds European Focus
Capital Accumulation

We think highly of veteran investor, Nigel Bolton, who runs this fund with co-manager, Amy Dey. Since assuming responsibility for the European Equity team, Mr Bolton has put together a strong and stable group of investors and a robust research process that has been proven to work well across a range of market conditions.  The team have collectively made some well-timed top-down calls over the years and have demonstrated impressive stock-picking abilities.  The flexible style of the fund balances nicely with the team’s degree of risk awareness, which Mr Bolton has inculcated over the years, and is a good discipline to have particularly when markets are driven by sentiment.  We are pleased to award an AA rating.

BlackRock Global Funds European Special Situations
Rating: A
Outcome: Capital Accumulation

The fund offers investors access to a talented manager, Michael Constantis, who seeks to identify undervalued companies that are growing fast. These may exhibit above average growth rates in earnings or sales relative to the broader market or industry as well as high or improving returns on capital. Mr Constantis is assisted by a well-resourced team of managers and analysts.  Within the team, there is a strong collaborative culture in terms of idea generation and information sharing. The team are well versed in the nuances of investing in the region and have collectively made some strong top-down calls over the years as well as displaying impressive stock-picking abilities. We are introducing the fund with an A rating based on our positive view of the manager, who is backed by a strong team and robust research process.

Fidelity Funds South East Asia
Rating: AA
Outcome: Capital Accumulation

The fund benefits from having at its helm one of the most experienced managers investing in the region. Although portfolio manager, Allan Liu, focuses on companies, he maintains a strong awareness of macroeconomic trends and market conditions.  He manages the fund with a flexible investment style and while he prefers companies that are able to grow earnings faster than the sector or the broader market, ultimately he invests where he sees good investments. We consider this fund a solid choice for investors seeking broad exposure to the region and are awarding an AA rating.

Lazard Emerging Markets Core Equity
Rating: A
Outcome: Capital Accumulation

This fund benefits from a well resourced and stable team that has worked together and applied the same investment process for well over 10 years. The approach is fairly conservative in its nature and looks to emphasise the team's stock picking skills rather than taking sizeable sector and country bets. Stock research is extensive and considers a variety of factors thereby providing the manager, Stephen Russell, with a flexible framework in which to select stocks at the various stages of their life cycle. The team has a long and successful track record of managing money in this style and we see this fund as an attractive offering for those looking to access the region.