Manager moves that shook the industry

This article is part of
Winter Investment Monitor - December 2013

Manager moves in the fund management industry are not uncommon. However 2013 has thrown up some of the biggest surprises in decades.

The shake-up began in March when Richard Buxton left Schroders after 12 years, which included managing the Schroder UK Alpha Plus fund since launch. The biggest surprise was perhaps that Mr Buxton opted for the growing Old Mutual Global Investors. This kick-started a merry-go-round of manager moves, with Jupiter losing Philip Matthews to Schroders as Mr Buxton’s replacement, while Neptune saw Alex Breese also jump ship to help fill the void of departing Schroders managers Errol Francis and Ed Meier.

In addition, Schroders’ acquisition of Cazenove, although not related to Mr Buxton’s departure, meant the spotlight fell on a new raft of managers, including Julie Dean, who replaced Mr Buxton as the manager of the Schroder UK Growth investment trust in May.

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A number of announcements signalled that 2014 will be the year of retirements. Fidelity confirmed that veteran manager Anthony Bolton would retire, for the second time, in April 2014 with Dale Nicholls named as his successor on the Fidelity China Special Situations investment trust.

Mr Bolton will remain in the industry as an adviser to Fidelity and a trustee of its charitable foundations. The confirmation of his departure date followed on from the news that his successor on the Fidelity Special Situations fund, Sanjeev Shah, will step down from the management of the fund at the end of 2013 in favour of Alex Wright. Mr Shah will then take on a new role within Fidelity’s Portfolio Manager Academy, which focuses on developing new investment talent.

Another slightly left-field announcement saw Graham French handing over the reins of the M&G Global Basics fund to his deputy Randeep Somel ahead of his retirement in May 2014.

However, a less surprising development was the confirmation that Philip Gibbs, manager of the Jupiter Absolute Return fund and Jupiter Second Split investment trust, would be retiring in October 2014. In September, he handed over the running of the Jupiter Absolute Return fund to recent recruit James Clunie.

Mr Gibbs’ retirement means Jupiter will lose two veteran managers next year as income manager Tony Nutt is also planning to retire in 2014. His replacements have also been internal, with Ben Whitmore taking on the Jupiter Income trust and the Jupiter High Income fund passing to Alastair Gunn following Mr Matthews’ move to Schroders.

The biggest shock of the year, however, came from Invesco Perpetual, with the announcement that Neil Woodford would be leaving in April 2014 to set up his own business. He has been synonymous with Invesco Perpetual for years, managing more than £30bn in assets between the IP High Income and IP Income funds and the Edinburgh Investment Trust.

The company had effectively already had a successor in place in the form of Mark Barnett, although few people imagined that the departure would be so soon, or that it would be for a new business venture.