Taube Hodson Stonex
Equity Manager of the Year: Global
Equity Manager of the Year: Europe
Taube Hodson Stonex (THS Partners) achieved outperformance
across both its European and international equity strategies in
the year to March 31 2014, beating their benchmarks by 17.8%
and 9.39% respectively.
The European Growth & Value Fund returned 31.26%, compared
with 13.39% for the MSCI European Total Return Index.
Meanwhile, the International Growth & Value Fund returned
17.84%, compared with the MSCI World Total Return
The firm attributes this success to its investment philosophy,
which compares and contrasts equities on a global basis to
identify high-quality stocks that are attractively valued and
benefit from major secular themes.
THS says this strategy enables it to construct portfolios that
can benefit from a range of regional, sectorial and
macroeconomic drivers, generating longterm absolute and
The firm’s stock selection approach differs from
that of many other managers as it is willing to hold cash in
portfolios if the portfolio management team thinks there are
insufficient suitable stocks to invest in at the right
valuation. It is unwilling to dilute the quality of its
portfolios and therefore believes holding cash is preferable to
investing in benchmark stocks that do not rate as favourably in
terms of exposure to secular themes and might compromise
THS believes willingness to hold cash in portfolios creates a
residual benefit by creating greater flexibility to take
initial holdings in stocks that have passed its screening
process without having to sell down other stakes. In addition
to achieving strong returns, the manager also took steps to
educate its existing and prospective client base on its
portfolio construction, risk management processes and broader
It explained its investment process, which it calls its
Adaptive Selection Process, by setting out in general terms how
the firm generates investment ideas and tests these against the
three criteria of theme, quality and value. THS says this move
has enabled investors to understand more and ask the right
questions by providing new infographics and presentation
Another key development was the improvement of the
firm’s client service, including the introduction
of new analysis tools to give investors clear guidance as to
how they expect portfolios to perform on a longer-term view in
different market scenarios. THS believes its approach to
environmental, sustainability and governance factors
differentiates it from other managers.
The firm says it takes these factors very seriously, to the
extent that it has developed its own rules and approach to
ensuring the best possible practice.
Equity Manager of the Year: Emerging and Frontier
Global alternative asset manager Duet Group saw great success
across its African equity funds in 2013. The Duet Africa
Opportunities Fund and Duet Africa Index Fund have both ranked
among the top five Africa-focused funds in terms of
performance, outperforming many of their peers, according to
The respective active and passive funds, managed by Africa
investment expert Ayo Salami and focusing on sub-Saharan Africa
and ex-South Africa, returned superior net returns of 30% and
36% respectively, says Duet. Salami and his team have been
awarded a variety of accolades for their achievements in the
management of African equities.
The firm was awarded Best Africa Fund of the Year at the
Investor Choice Awards 2013, and Best Fund at the Africa Asset
Management Performance Awards 2013.
Duet says Salami’s team owns and maintains one of
the most comprehensive databases of African securities, with
more than 20 years of daily trading information, such as volume
and prices of more than 4,000 securities, as well as annual
reports of hundreds of companies in digital format, including
deceased companies that greatly reduce the impact of survival
bias on the team’s analysis of African markets.
With more than 15 years of experience working within African
securities, Duet says Salami continues to develop his strategy
based on his knowledge of the region and high-conviction stock
Multi-asset Manager of the Year: Global
PineBridge Investments’ dynamic asset-allocation
strategy uses a forward-looking fundamental approach to
allocating capital opportunistically. This strategy seeks to
produce attractive absolute returns over an intermediate term,
yet with lower volatility through a risk-focused methodology
that helps to protect its portfolios during times of stress.
The firm’s Pension Composite – which has
used this strategy for more than a decade – has been
ranked in the top quartile on both one-year returns and
one-year Sharpe ratio within the GTAA eVestment universe as of
March 31 2014.
It is also among the top-ranked strategies on both returns and
the Sharpe ratio over seven years, a period that captures the
full downside stress of the global financial crisis followed by
five years of upside.
Additionally, the strategy has been a consistently stronger
performer over three-year and five-year periods. PineBridge
Investments believes an intermediate-term perspective is
necessary to allow time for market prices to converge to its
fundamental views on asset classes and that this ability to
benefit from market appreciation while positioning to protect
portfolios during stress is central to investment excellence.
PineBridge says one of its key attributes is being inclusive
and transparent with its key investors, inviting them to
observe investment strategy meetings, access its intellectual
capital and learn from its intermediate-term philosophy, which
is designed to supplement investors’ existing
long-term strategic and shorter-term tactical asset allocations
and provide them with an avenue to pursue an outcome-oriented
model through enhanced returns with lower volatility.
Baring Asset Management
Multi-asset Manager of the Year: Europe
The Baring Dynamic Asset Allocation Fund delivered a positive
return to investors of 7.9% on a net basis in 2013, well ahead
of its target of Libor +4%, accompanied by low volatility of
Since inception in January 2007 the fund has returned 6.8%,
just ahead of the investment objective of Libor +4% –
which equates to 6.6% – and ahead of the 3% for the
Ftse All Share Index and 4.8% for the Ftse All World Index.
The fund is also ranked first quartile over three and five
years within its peer group, the Mercers Diversified Growth
universe. Its multi-asset strategy is backed by a number of buy
ratings from pension consultants.
The fund welcomed 69 new clients with £1.6bn ($2.7bn) of
assets last year, while the daily priced Baring Multi Asset
Fund doubled in size from £290m to £662m as a
growing number of defined contribution schemes were looking for
a multi-asset governance solution to select it as a default.
Together, this brought the amount Baring manages in sterling
multi-asset approaches to more than £10bn for the first
time. The Euro Dynamic Asset Allocation Fund was launched in
March 2013, designed specifically for European investors to
take into account the different correlations and currency
considerations that these investors face.
Baring’s multi-asset investment strategy
represents 30% of the firm’s assets under
management. It follows a top-down approach to investing and is
prepared to back its views with active positions in the
portfolios it manages.
SRI Manager of the Year
As social investment evolves, impact investment has
emerged as a viable strategy. To date, it has been associated
with illiquid, higher-risk private investment – often
equity-based – into ventures that have a direct
The challenge for asset managers has been to develop a credible
and mainstream, dailypriced, investment product that can appeal
to a broad investor base. Threadneedle believes its UK Social
Bond Fund launched in December 2013 meets this challenge by
providing a diversified bond portfolio that aims for positive
social benefits and outcomes, as well as respectable
risk-adjusted returns in line with traditional UK corporate
The UK Social Bond Fund was launched in partnership with Big
Issue Invest, which, in conjunction with Threadneedle, has
developed a social assessment methodology that screens all
investable bonds with a focus on the degree to which they
deliver positive outcomes across eight fields of social
This provides the framework under which the social attributes
and intensity of an investment are assessed for consideration
alongside its yield and liquidity characteristics in building a
balanced, diversified portfolio.
This is a key differentiator from many other products in the
market that focus on one specific sector or a set of beliefs
and values, which are applied to exclude certain types of
Threadneedle believes bonds have a number of advantages,
including that a wide range of entities do not issue public
equity but do issue bonds to finance projects and fund their
objectives. It says the other benefit is that, unlike equities,
bonds can be secured on identifiable assets such as property
and can even target particular parts of a business, so that
investors can link funding to a particular social
Fixed Income Manager of the Year: Global
Pioneer Investments’ team in Dublin manages over
£40bn ($54.5bn) of client assets in investment-grade
fixed income. All strategies exceeded their respective
benchmarks in 2013, marking five consecutive years of
outperformance, according to the firm.
Pioneer believes an absolute return bond strategy that aims to
return pure alpha and neutralise any inherent market risk is
necessary following changes in the approach to bond investing
from clients, which are considering new ways of achieving their
return requirement while remaining in the fixed income space.
Despite the 2013 summer sell-off in fixed income markets, the
team and strategy delivered returns of 0.35%, 0.74% and 0.31%
in May, June and July respectively.
Sterling Absolute Return Bond was launched and has been
available to UK clients since December 2013. The US fixed
income team’s flagship fund, Pioneer Funds
– Strategic Income, returned a relative 3.97% during
2013 and an absolute annualised return of 12.34% over five
years. The team also delivered strong results in its
well-established multi-sector credit strategy, bringing
together a flexible approach to multiple credit pools.
Last year Pioneer launched two new multi-sector strategies,
Global-Multi Sector and Dynamic Credit, in order to give
clients the ability to diversify their portfolios and a
potential buffer to volatility in bond markets as tapering
Emerging markets fixed income continues to be an area of
interest for many clients as they seek to diversify their
portfolios and invest in long-term growth opportunities. This
led Pioneer to launch two new strategies in 2013, the Emerging
Markets Corporate Bond and Emerging Markets Corporate High
Bluebay Asset Management
Fixed Income Manager of the Year: Europe
A key part of BlueBay Asset Management’s strategic
business model is to take advantage of the strong secular
growth trends within European corporate fixed income markets.
This was an integral part of its strategy when the company was
founded in 2001 and remains equally relevant in
today’s market. BlueBay’s European
fixed income business focuses on corporate and government debt.
It manages a total of 36 long-only and alternative funds with
total assets under management of $62.6bn that invest in
developed market and emerging market fixed income. This
includes absolute return strategies as well as multi-asset
credit funds. Assets under management within the multi-asset
credit funds totals $1.3bn.
As the product suite of multi-asset credit has grown, BlueBay
employed David Riley as head of credit strategy in July 2013.
Joining from Fitch Ratings, he brought a wealth of knowledge
and experience to strengthen the collaboration between
BlueBay’s sovereign and corporate credit experts.
BlueBay has also created an institutional portfolio managers
team to sit between the sales team and portfolio managers, to
ensure that communication to clients is detailed, thorough and
committed, while allowing managers to dedicate their time to
running their funds.
Over the past few years, many European investors have become
increasingly aware of environmental, social and corporate
governance (ESG) issues.
In response, BlueBay investigated solutions to fulfil ESG
requirements and with the help of an experienced consultant,
ESG analysis has now been incorporated into the investment
process and responsibility now sits with the investment team
rather than a specialist team.
BlueBay is a signatory of the UN Principles for Responsible
Investment and has an increasing number of segregated accounts
utilising exclusion lists to meet their requirements.
Fixed Income Manager of the Year: Emerging &
Stratton Street’s Renminbi Bond Fund has
returned 87% since its launch in November 2007. The firm
attributes the fund’s success to its strategy to
invest in bonds from Asian creditors hedged into renminbi while
many other funds invest solely in "dim sum" CNH renminbi bonds.
The fund has the flexibility to buy dim sum bonds but Stratton
Street considers that they offer little value. This has enabled
it to generate positive returns this calendar year at a time
when the renminbi has had its first period of weakness, making
up the returns with appreciation on the bond portfolio.
Stratton Street has launched a Luxembourg-based Ucits version
of the fund, the Stratton Street Ucits Renminbi Bond Fund UI,
giving investors unable to access the original Guernsey fund
access to the strategy. The company also secured its first
pensionfund client this year, investing in the Wealthy Nations
strategy, holding fixed income securities from creditor nations
that are undervalued.
All Stratton Street’s funds use its net foreign
asset modelling to invest in fixed income based on ability to
pay rather than market weights. The fund considers that market
size weighted investment for fixed income simply means buying
more from the larger issuers of debt.
Wealth Manager of the Year
Barclays has been voted the best wealth management
firm in the Global Investor/ISF Investment Excellence
Awards for the second year in a row. Over the past year the
firm has undertaken significant innovations to enhance the
experience its clients receive.
Barclays says it was the first wealth manager to introduce an
innovative voice recognition solution, Voice Biometrics, which
matches the client’s stored voice print against
their live call in real time. This is aimed at ensuring the
flow of the call is not interrupted and dramatically reduces
the authentication each client has to go through. Clients can
now start discussing their issues immediately rather than
having to remember obscure information or details they may have
entered on an application form many years ago, according to
Barclays. The firm found that 88% of clients were at least as
satisfied with voice authentication compared to the previous
Barclays has also introduced a Financial Personality Assessment
that uses the science of
psychometrics to take into consideration the scientific and
emotional aspects of decision-making. Barclays says that wealth
managers have traditionally categorised their clients according
to a "narrow set of criteria" and that risk tolerance tends to
be the only dimension of client personality that is taken into
The firm also launched a high-net-worth client lifestyle
platform, the Little Book of Wonders, to provide clients with a
"money can’t buy" world of exclusive experiences
and luxury brand partners. The platform now has 3130 active
users. One notable experience was taking clients to Paris to
enjoy a day with Italian designer Valentino. One client
commented: "It truly was an amazing experience and the
generosity of both Barclays and Valentino was unending."
Another client who was taken to dinner with English celebrity
chef Marcus Wareing said: "What can I say but wow! I knew the
food would be sublime but to have the amazing evening we had
was beyond expectation." On spending a father-and-son day with
British gun-maker Holland & Holland, a client said: "I must
have already recounted our trip to the factory 10 times this
Last year Barclays continued the high growth it experienced in
2012. Income from its wealth and investment management business
grew to £1.8m ($3.1bn) in 2013, driven by its
high-net-worth businesses, notably in the Americas and Asia,
where growth exceeded 20% from 2012 figures. Client assets grew
a "healthy" 10% to £204.8bn, customer deposits increased
18% to £63.4bn and lending balances were up 8% to
£23.1bn. Barclays says its joint venture with SMBC in
Japan far exceeded its expectations reporting a full-year 2013
profit of £13m (2012: £1m). The firm says it cut
the volume of customer complaints it received by 30% in 2013.
Barclays’ achievements have been recently
recognised by other entities, including for net-worth specific
services in the UK (Super Affluent) in the Euromoney Awards.
The firm was also voted Customer Service Team of the Year in
the CCA Awards, Best Application of Technology in the European
Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards, and was recognised
with the Corporate Social Responsibility of the Year prize at
the HR Network Awards.
The business has also undergone a major restructuring following
Barclays’ decision to roll it into the
bank’s personal and corporate banking arm,
alongside its UK and retail banking operations.
Barclays’ chief executive Antony Jenkins said
recently that this would create "powerful synergies both on the
customer side and on the cost-reduction side.
Allianz Global Investors
Infrastructure Manager of the Year
Over the past year Allianz Global Investors
(AllianzGI) has completed eight infrastructure debt
transactions across seven European countries, including the
funding of the A11 motorway in Belgium and the M8, M73 and M74
motorway improvements in Scotland.
AllianzGI’s investment in the Scottish Motorway
Improvements Project included a number of important firsts for
the UK infrastructure sector since the financial crisis:
- First UK listed project bond to feature a deferred
settlement mechanism to mitigate negative carry.
- First use of an unwrapped construction phase project bond
pari passu with an EIB loan.
- First such investment by a UK pension fund.
Pension funds and insurance companies are drawn to the
long-term, secure cashflows that can be generated by
infrastructure investments and used to pay their equally
In addition to the transactions completed, AllianzGI has a
pipeline of investments either at the tender stage or close to
The creation of infrastructure debt as an asset class offered
by investment managers has been spoken about for a number of
years but was held back by a lack of specialist expertise
within the industry and the dominance of banks in the financing
of such long-term projects.
The acquisition of expertise by large-scale players such as
AllianzGI has provided the market with a credible source of
With the institutional offer still in its infancy, the ability
of an investment manager to deliver bespoke debt offerings is
critical to the credibility of the offering. Investment
managers need to establish significant commitments before
placing bids for what is often a detailed tender process.
Depending on the type of investment, the financing may be
deferred or happen in a number of tranches. The earmarking of
£50bn of infrastructure projects open to private
investment in the recent Budget underlines the critical role
that private capital is set to play in modernising the
Additional sources of investment can help ensure major
infrastructure projects become a reality. As one of the first
global investment managers to establish a dedicated
infrastructure debt team, AllianzGI is playing a leading role
in positioning infrastructure debt to institutional investors
as an attractive, long-term asset class.