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Who let the dogs out? Underperforming funds revealed

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As the tide turns in stock markets, there are likely to be tougher times ahead for fund managers.

However, the most recent ‘Spot the Dog’ report from Bestinvest showed that fund managers are generally doing a better job compared to the last report. Only 26 funds meet its criteria for a long-term, poorly performing fund, compared to 34 six months ago.

There’s also good news for investors as the level of assets in ‘dog funds’ has also steadily reduced – from £7.6bn last time, to £6.4bn today.

However, there are still plenty of weak funds out there. The £1.2bn Aberdeen Asia Pacific Equity fund is the largest fund on the list, followed by the £900m Fidelity American fund. Aberdeen Standard Investments, the fund giant created from the merger of Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management, has £1.7bn (over 25%) of the total assets in ‘dog funds’ and the highest number of funds (four), but this is an improvement on last time. Fidelity has £955m in two funds.

The Global equities sector has the largest number of dog funds, with seven funds. US equities has five underperforming funds. UK Smaller Companies and Global Emerging Markets dog funds have fared worse than before. Last time there were no funds in either sector on the list, while this time there were two UK Smaller Companies funds and three Global Emerging Markets funds.

If you find yourself in one of the weak funds, should you switch? Bestinvest’s view is: “There are many reasons why funds go through periods of poor performance. Deciding whether to stay invested or switch is all about assessing its future prospects and whether you might be able to do better elsewhere.”

As such, the advisory group suggests that investors look at whether action is underway to improve performance. For example if a new fund manager with a strong, proven track record elsewhere is appointed or a change of investment approach is now being applied to a fund that has historically underperformed, performance could be turned around.

However, Bestinvest added: “Funds that appear in (the list) do require further investigation. Unless there are good reasons to believe performance will turn around based on an assessment of its prospects, it may make sense to switch.”

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