M&G’s Woolnough is multi-managers’ favourite

M&G Investments’ bond giant Richard Woolnough has seen his £15.6bn Optimal Income fund top the list of most popular funds for multi-managers, according to Lipper data.

The manager has 180 fund-of-fund (FoF) managers investing in the product accounting for €939.1m (£808m), according to Lipper.

The manager is closely followed by the Aberdeen Global Emerging Markets Equity fund, which has 179 FoFs invested, and then the First State Asia Pacific Leaders fund run by Angus Tulloch which has investments from 142 FoFs.

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BlackRock was the most popular group for fund-of-fund managers with 1,258 FoFs investing in BlackRock products. JPMorgan was close behind with 1,061 and Schroders had 1,009.

Lipper said 2012 and 2013 had “clearly seen a very encouraging trend for asset managers with inflows rising” although it noted the volatile markets experienced last month were not accounted for.

Elsewhere, assets in the UK fund-of-funds market have doubled from after rising from €30bn in April 2008 to above €60bn at April 2013.

Ed Moisson, Lipper’s head of UK & cross-border research, said: “Inflows to third party funds of funds this year are on course to exceed the total achieved in 2010 (€32.3bn) and may even approach the 2006 high point (€50.3bn), so it is an opportune time to look closer into what this group of professional fund selectors has been investing.”

The report produced by Lipper, which analysed 2,100 third party funds of funds, showed an increased allocation to bond funds in the past three years.

“This is probably not surprising in itself, although the four percentage points rise represents a 15 per cent increase in bond allocations overall,” he said.

“It is worth noting that some 20 per cent of funds of funds have a purely equity-based investment objective.”

Mr Moisson said the “most striking” change though was the allocation to emerging market bond funds - hard and local currency - while there had been a “clear retreat” from European equities.