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BlackRock takes top spot in FE Alpha Manager rebalance

18 February 2019

More than 50 names were added to the FE Alpha Manager list for 2019 taking the total to 200, with a significant number of first time appearances.

By Rob Langston,

News editor, FE Trustnet

BlackRock has taken the top place as the group with the most FE Alpha Managers following the annual rebalance of FE’s list of top-performing fund managers, which saw more than 50 names added.

The list represents the top 10 per cent of managers in the UK retail-facing investment industry; it is based on performance dating back to 2000, with extra weighting for managers with the longest track records.

Other criteria taken into account include a manager’s ability to create risk-adjusted alpha, outperformance in both rising and falling markets, and those who consistently beat their benchmarks.

This year there are 200 individuals holding FE Alpha Manager status with BlackRock taking 10 spots, narrowly seeing off Fidelity International’s nine, as the below table shows.

Four new BlackRock names were added, allowing the group to take the top spot, while Fidelity dropped to second place after its manager count fell by one from last year’s showing.


Source: FE

Comgest Asset Management soared towards the top of the rankings with seven FE Alpha Managers – all first-timers – after becoming eligible for sale in the UK and, therefore, a rating.

The French group sits alongside M&G, which added three managers to its total from last year, and was followed by Janus Henderson Investors, JP Morgan Asset Management, Marlborough Fund Managers, Polar Capital and Schroders on five each.

Top sector this year was IA Japanese Smaller Companies with the highest percentage of FE Alpha Managers (57 per cent), knocking the winner of the last two years, IA UK Smaller Companies, down to second place with 47 per cent.

IA UK Index Linked Gilts had just one top-ranked manager, while there were none to be found in the IA UK Direct Property and IA Volatility Managed sectors.

“The volatility in 2018 has had an impact on these figures, even with the long-term focus of the rating,” said Rob Gleeson, head of FE research.

“It’s not surprising that sectors that typically have a high average active share have the most FE Alpha Managers, as there was opportunity for the right active strategy to do very well through this period.”


In total, 54 names were added to the list this year, including 38 first time FE Alpha Managers, while 52 lost their rating mostly due to non-investment related reasons such as retirement.

“Several managers with a focus on smaller companies have lost their place,” said Charles Younes, research manager at FE. “This is reflective of the underperformance of smaller companies compared to large-caps since Brexit. Managers with a preference for smaller companies have been struggling to generate alpha across the board.”

As already mentioned, seven first-time managers making it onto the list came from Comgest, which did not previously have any managers on the list, making it the group with the most new FE Alpha Managers and the most first-timers.

Comgest’s Laurent Dobler, Franz Weis, Arnaud Cosserat, Alexandre Narboni, Eva Fornadi, Rebecca Kaddoum, and Céline Piquemal-Prade all given FE Alpha Manager status.

Dobler, Weis, Cosserat, Fronadi and Kaddoum work across several European equity strategies, while Narboni and Piquemal-Prade manage global and non-European mandates.

BMO Global Asset Management and Hawksmoor Investment Management also made it onto the 2019 list with more than one new top-rated manager.

Veteran multi-manager Peter Hewitt – who oversees the BMO Managed Portfolio Trust – achieved the rating for the first time and was joined by fixed income-focused colleague Nabil Owadally.

Meanwhile, Hawksmoor Fund Managers duo Ben Conway and Daniel Lockyer were also first-time FE Alpha Manager additions.


Source: FE

There were several other first-timers who represented their firms’ sole representative. These included: AllianceBernstein’s Sammy SuzukiTom May of Atlantic House Fund Management, Lombard Odier’s Odile Lange-Broussy, and Sanlam’s Pieter Fourie.

In addition, several firms with a presence on the FE Alpha Manager list already saw multiple first-timers joining at the latest rebalance.

BlackRock saw the most first-time FE Alpha Managers added, including Olivia Markham, Alex Shingler, Justin ChristofelGordon Fraser and Ben Edwards.

They were joined by Baillie Gifford’s Mark Urquhart and Torcail Stewart, Fidelity’s Bryan Collins and Hyunho Sohn, JP Morgan’s Mark Davids and James Elliot, and M&G’s David Fishwick and Richard O’Connor.

Meanwhile, GLG Partners, Majedie Asset Management, Matthews Asia, Merian Global Investors, Miton Asset Management, PIMCO, Royal London Asset Management, Schroders and T. Rowe Price each saw one first-time manager given the rating.

While there was a substantial number of first-time managers there were also a number of familiar faces returning in 2019 after a period of absence.

One of the biggest names returning to the FE Alpha Manager fold was hedge fund manager Crispin Odey, who has now featured in the list 10 times.

Odey’s globally focused, multi-asset LF Odey Opus fund – which he manages alongside Freddie Neave – made a loss of 3.1 per cent last year against a 3.04 per cent fall for the benchmark MSCI World index.

Over 10 years to 14 February, the fund has made a total return of 151.73 per cent outperforming the average IA Flexible Investment peer’s 124.96 per cent gain but below the benchmark s 239.33 per cent return.

Fixed income investor Dickie Hodges – who manages the Nomura Global Dynamic Bond fund – makes his sixth appearance, as does MFS Investment Management’s Barnaby Wiener and Matthew Ryan. M&G’s Leonard Vinville also stands out for his fourth appearance in the list.

Another name making a return as an FE Alpha Manager is Stephen Yiu, whose LF Blue Whale Growth has been a strong performer since launching with backing from Hargreaves Lansdown founder Peter Hargreaves.

The £98.2m fund, which Yiu manages alongside Rob Lloyd, has recorded a 24.11 per cent gain since launching in September 2017, while the average IA Global peer has managed a return of just 7.06 per cent.

Prior to launching investment firm Blue Whale Capital in 2017, Yiu had worked at Artemis Fund Managers and on Hargreaves Lansdown’s multi-manager offering.


Source: FE

Another veteran investor making a return to FE Alpha Manager status is small-cap specialist Paul Mumford, manager of the five FE Crown-rated TM Cavendish AIM and flagship TM Cavendish Opportunities funds.

Since launch in February 1988, the £121m, UK smaller companies-focused TM Cavendish Opportunities fund has made a total return of 1,874.12 per cent.

Meanwhile, the £65.6m TM Cavendish AIM fund has made a return of 213.65 per cent, slightly underperforming the average peers 213.65 per cent return and a 2.36 per cent loss for the benchmark FTSE AIM All-Share index.

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Data provided by FE fundinfo. Care has been taken to ensure that the information is correct, but FE fundinfo neither warrants, represents nor guarantees the contents of information, nor does it accept any responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions or any inconsistencies herein. Past performance does not predict future performance, it should not be the main or sole reason for making an investment decision. The value of investments and any income from them can fall as well as rise.