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DIY investors shun star manager Woodford

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06/06/2018
Neil Woodford’s Equity Income fund has dropped out of platform AJ Bell’s top 10 seller list a week after a fund rating agency downgraded it.

The one-time best-selling fund, which has disappointed investors with its significant underperformance, is down 11% in the past 12 months compared to the average fund in the peer group, which is up 7% over the same time period.

Despite the prolonged period of poor performance, the fund still claimed the eighth spot in AJ Bell’s list of most purchased active funds in April.

Data for May, however, shows the £6bn fund, which saw investors withdraw £1.3bn in 2017, has fallen out of the top 10.

It comes as fund agency, Morningstar, last week cut the rating on the fund from silver to bronze because of concerns of its high exposure to small-cap stocks and unquoted companies.

Woodford Equity Income remains on AJ Bell’s recommended fund list but Ryan Hughes, the firm’s head of active portfolios, is not surprised it has fallen out of the top 10 among clients.

“Woodford outperformed his peers for the first three years of the fund and he has had one difficult year. But it’s important to put this in context,” he said.

“The fund has a large number of smaller companies which are long-term growth companies and he has been very clear that these will take a long time to play out.

“I wouldn’t expect them to perform well in this market as out of favour companies are not doing well. Fashionable stocks are what’s driving the market.

“He’s clearly had some stock specific issues but that doesn’t make him a bad manager. He is also fully transparent with his holdings, which is not doing him any favours.”

Most popular funds

Turning to the best seller list, only three UK-focused funds remain in the top 10 – Lindsell Train UK Equity, Castlefield UK Buffettology and Old Mutual UK Mid Cap.

The two most popular funds – Fundsmith Equity and Lindsell Train Global Equity – both invest in high quality global businesses. Two specialist Japan funds – Legg Mason Japan and Baillie Gifford Japanese Smaller Companies – make the region the most popular overseas market.

“The UK continues to be out of favour, with economic growth stalling and Brexit lurking in the shadows,” says Hughes.

Top 10 most purchased active funds in May 

1 Fundsmith Equity
2 Lindsell Train Global Equity
3 Legg Mason Japan Equity
4 Polar Capital Global Technology
5 Lindsell Train UK Equity
6 Castlefield UK Buffettology
7 Standard Life Global Smaller Companies
8 Baillie Gifford Discovery
9 Old Mutual UK Mid Cap
10 Baillie Gifford Japanese Smaller Companies

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