Close Strategic Alpha earns three-star rating

The fund, launched by Close Brothers Asset Management in July 2008 and managed by Nancy Curtin, has been given a three-star rating by Morningstar.

A breakdown shows that 34.22 per cent is invested in the UK, followed by 20.80 per cent in the US, and 20.42 in Japan.

At 2.23 per cent, the total expense ratio is higher than the peer group average of the Investment Management Association Flexible Investment sector which stands at 1.85 per cent.

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The fund is placed 19th out of 111 in the IMA sector with returns 7.59 percentage points higher than the peer group average of 18.39 per cent, but almost 13 percentage points lower than the best-performing fund, the £33.68m TB Wise Income Fund.

The Close Brothers portfolio has a minimum investment of £5000 in a lump-sum or £100 in regular monthly savings.

It aims to provide capital growth and to deliver absolute returns on a rolling 12-month basis by investing in a diversified portfolio of equity, fixed-interest investments and cash, drawn from various markets worldwide.

Year-to-date trailing returns stand at 1.87 per cent, according to Morningstar, with the fund’s top-10 holdings making up more than half of the portfolio.

At 7.13 per cent of total assets, the largest holding is the £629.75m JO Hambro Capital Management Japan fund, which has been given a bronze Morningstar analyst rating.

The portfolio’s second and third largest holdings are the £117.97m Baillie Gifford UK Equity Alpha Fund, and the £4.71bn Axa Framlington UK Select Opportunities Fund.

The fund’s maximum annual management charge is 1.5 per cent and it has a maximum initial charge of 5 per cent.

Lower down the IMA Flexible Investment sector, the £6.52m Barclays Wealth Global Markets 5 Fund is in 95th place following three-year returns of 9.9 per cent, just half the peer group average.

The fund was launched in September 2010 and is managed by a Barclays team based in Dublin. It is one of five risk-rated funds in the global markets series and is placed at the higher end of the risk spectrum.

The portfolio has been given a one-star rating by Morningstar. It is aimed at providing high levels of capital growth in the medium to long term, and has a heavy allocation in US equities at 44.39 per cent.

Morningstar data shows it has generated trailing year-to-date returns of -0.34 per cent. Its two largest holdings are the $8.71bn (£5.25bn) Vanguard Global Stock Index Fund with 17.95 per cent of holdings, and the $13.79bn (£8.32bn) BlackRock ISF Developed World Index Fund at 17.58 per cent.

The fund has a minimum investment of £500, a TER of 1.57 per cent, a maximum AMC of 1 per cent and a maximum initial charge of 4.5 per cent.

Adviser View

Gavin Haynes, managing director of Bristol-based Whitechurch Securities, said: “The Barclays portfolio is a fund of exhange-traded funds and index funds. However it is not a low-cost option for passive investing.

“The performance and risk-adjusted returns have been hugely disappointing. Given the risk rating allowing 85 per cent global equity exposure, the three-year return is very poor and it’s unsurprising it is only £6.5m in size.