May Fund Launch Targets Girl Power

NEWS YOU CAN USE: New funds launches this month target gender diversity and global absolute returns

Emma Simon 31 May, 2018 | 12:17PM

This month has seen a flurry of new fund launches, but also changes and closures to a number of existing funds. One fund looking to capture investors’ interest targets firms that have an excellent record on gender diversity.

This fund has been launched by L&G Investment Management, and its head of personal investing, Helena Morrissey – a long-time champion of boosting female representation at board level.

LGIM is launching a fund targeting companies with a good track record of promoting women, particularly to boardroom level

Two other veteran fund managers were also in the news. AXA announced that after 40 years in the fund management industry, Nigel Thomas was retiring next year.

Meanwhile there was more bad news for Neil Woodford, who saw his eponymous Woodford Equity Income fund dropped from Charles Stanley’s foundation fund list and downgraded by Morningstar analysts.

LGIM Launches GIRL Fund

L&G Investment Management (LGIM) is launching a fund targeting companies with a good track record of promoting women, particularly to boardroom level.

The L&G Future World Gender in Leadership (GIRL) UK Index Fund will track an index that scores and ranks companies according to four different measures, including the number of women on the board.

Companies in this index, which has been devised by LGIM, include Merlin Entertainments (MERL) Next (NXT), and Marks & Spencer (MKS).

The fund has been launched by LGIM’s head of personal investing Helena Morrissey.

Morrissey, the former chief executive of Newton Investment Management, previously launched the 30% Club to campaign for greater female representation on company boards.

LGIM will invest £50 million into this fledgling fund, which will be available to both retail and institutional investors.

Launching the fund Morrissey said: “Gender inequality is one of the key issues of our time, and one that generates so much frustration. This GIRL fund empowers us all to use our money to help companies to progress.”

Veteran Fund Manager Announces Retirement

Nigel Thomas, manager of the AXA Framlington UK Select Opportunities fund, will retire next March. Thomas has run this fund for more than 15 years, and has been in the fund management industry for almost 40 years.

AXA says that Chris St John will take over the running of this Select Opportunities fund from early next year. The fund has delivered annualised returns of 8.1% over the past 10 years, according to Morningstar. This fund’s Morningstar analyst rating is currently under review as a result of this announcement.

US Asset Manager Targets UK Investors

Wells Fargo Asset Management has launches its Global Absolute Equity Return fund to UK investors. This fund aims to achieve positive returns regardless of market conditions by taking both long and short positions in developed market equities.

The fund can have 100% of its assets in long positions and short-equity exposure.

Scottish Mortgage Increases Dividend

Gold-rated investment trust Scottish Mortgage (SMT) has maintained its impressive dividend record, of increasing dividend payout to shareholders for the past 35 years.

However, it has only managed to achieve that this year – its 36th year –  by dipping into its capital reserves. This year’s dividend will be paid from a combination of earnings, capital reserves and the remainder of its revenue reserves.

Announcing this dividend payment in its annual results, Scottish Mortgage said that its net asset value had increased by 25% over the year, and its share price was up by 21.6%. This compares to the 2.9% rise in its FTSE All World index benchmark.

The trust will pay shareholders a final dividend of 1.68p per share, providing a total distribution for the year of 3.07p per share – up from 3p per share last year.

Charles Stanley Sacks Woodford

Online stockbrokers Charles Stanley Direct has removed Neil Woodford’s flagship fund from its foundation fund list – a list of high conviction fund ideas.

It said it was concerned about the impact of a small number of early-stage business on the performance of the Woodford Equity Income.

However, despite removing this fund from its list it gave a ringing endorsement of Woodford’s abilities as a fund manager.

It described him as talented fund managers and said it was likely that the fund would bounce back from this “tough period on performance”.

This £6.7 billion fund was launched in 2014. Last year it was removed from the Investment Association’s UK Equity Income sector for failing to meet its yield requirements.

It has suffered particularly poor performance in the past 12 months.

Newton Poaches BlackRock Manager

Andy Warwick, who currently manages a number of BlackRock funds is to join Newton Investment Management at the end of July. Warwick will be the co-lead portfolio manager of Newton’s Real Return team, working alongside Suzanne Hutchines and Aron Pataki.

Newton Real Return fund has almost £15 billion under management, including £9.7 billion run for UK investors.

Warwick has worked for a number of investment houses including Merill Lynch and Dalton Strategy Partnerships. His most recent roles at BlackRock included co-managing the Dynamic Diversified Growth Fund and Balanced Managed funds. 

These former will now be run by Adam Ryan, with the latter run by Ryan, Jason Byrom and Conan McKenzie.

Janus Henderson Closes UK Trust

Janus Henderson is closing its UK Strategic Income fund after assets slipped to £10.8 million.

The fund is managed by the asset manager’s multi-asset team. However, it has said that at this size the fund is no longer viable. It will close on July 2.

Investors have the option of to switch to another fund, or cash in their holding prior to the closure date. Those that opt to do nothing will receive a pro-rata payment from the liquidation of the trust.

Over the past 10 years the fund has produced annualised returns of 3.45% according to Morningstar data, but investors have seen the value of their investments fall by 0.56% in the year to date.

Overhaul for Aberdeen New Thai Trust

The board of Aberdeen New Thai (ANW) plans to boost its performance with a number of proposed changes. It has suggested boosting the trust’s gearing capabilities and allowing limited investments in unlisted Thai companies.

Other changes include increasing the trust’s small cap exposure, cutting fees and paying an interim dividend, which is due to start in the third quarter of this year. It is proposing a reduction in the management fee from 1% to 0.9%. Although this trust has delivered positive returns in recent years, performance has lagged against its benchmark.

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Securities Mentioned in Article

Security NamePriceChange (%)Morningstar
Rating
AXA Framlington UK Select Opps ZI Acc153.81 GBP0.93
Marks & Spencer Group PLC276.50 GBX0.36-
Merlin Entertainments PLC329.40 GBX1.76-
Newton Real Return Inst W Acc1.16 GBP0.36-
Next PLC4,570.00 GBX-1.08-
Scottish Mortgage Ord493.15 GBX0.35

About Author

Emma Simon

Emma Simon  is a financial journalist, specialising in investment and consumer issues, writing for Morningstar.co.uk