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Fund manager moves: Has industry turnover become excessive?

Dan Jones
Written By:
Dan Jones

Research by trade publication Investment Week has revealed only half of managers in the major IMA sectors have run their funds for five years or more.

The figures, compiled using FE data, show the extent to which manager turnover affects the industry, and raises questions over how portfolios would react in the event of market stress.

Across the six sectors analysed as a whole, just 50% of the 853 funds (as of 31 May) have been run by the same manager for more than five years. The worst offender was the Global sector, in which just 42% of managers have remained in place for that period, according to FE.

The data does not include funds launched over the past five years, but there is one crucial caveat to the numbers: managers’ old portfolios are not taken into account, meaning some may have run similar-style processes for many years, despite not being captured by the data.

However, with the last five years having been relatively smooth sailing for the asset classes in question, Andrew Summers, head of collectives at Investec Wealth & Investment, said the figures raise questions over how managers will cope with different conditions.

“I want a manager that has been through multiple cycles. What the data tells us currently is that half of managers have not even been through one,” he said.

“It is harder to do due diligence and have confidence in how a manager may perform if they only have a five-year track record [on an individual fund].”

Rob Burdett, co-head of multi-manager at F&C, said the need to “stitch together” track records is a familiar one for fund buyers.

“We are very happy to buy shorter track records anyway – largely because our process is driven towards bottom-up fund selection, rather than being dominated by asset allocation and finding a manager to fit it.”

With fund flows concentrating and funds often ballooning in size very quickly, Burdett suggested some moves are a result of manager remuneration not keeping pace with growth in fund size.

However, he cautioned: “[That said], it is an overpaid industry, the best managers love what they do, and they often have money alongside investors’ own.”

Burdett said the F&C multi-manager funds have been less affected by manager moves than some in the past 18 months, in part pointing to a preference for boutique funds, often from “owner-managed businesses.”

Nonetheless, one of the UK’s most popular sectors remains one of the most reliable in terms of manager tenure. The UK Equity Income sector may be perceived as one of highly concentrated fund flows in recent years, but 61% of managers in the space now have a track record of five years or more.

Managers who have run their fund for over five years