The high profile Jupiter Merlin fund of funds range has had its premium gold rating taken away by Morningstar after co-manager Peter Lawery stepped down from fund management.
After managing the Merlin funds with John Chatfeild-Roberts and Algy Smith-Maxwell since 2001, Mr Lawery stepped back into a consultancy role at the end of 2014.
Following a review of the range sparked by Mr Lawery’s move, Morningstar has decided to remove the gold rating, the highest award possible, from four of the five Merlin funds.
Jupiter Merlin Growth, Balanced and Income funds have had their ratings reduced to silver, while the Jupiter Merlin Worldwide Portfolio fund has been downgraded to bronze. The Jupiter Merlin Conservative Portfolio fund has retained its bronze rating.
Jeremy Beckwith, director of manager research for Morningstar UK, said the downgrade reflected the analysts’ “lower level of conviction [in the Merlin funds] after the loss of Lawery”.
In spite of the downgrade, the three silver-rated funds remain the highest rated multi-manager funds in the Morningstar GBP Allocation categories.
Mr Beckwith added the additional downgrade of the Worldwide fund was due to “the more limited scope to add value from allocation in this single asset (equities) portfolio”.
The four funds previously rated as gold have all outperformed their sector average in the past 10 years but have had mixed fortunes in recent years.
In the past three years, the Worldwide fund is bottom quartile in the IA Global sector, the Income fund is third quartile in the IA Mixed Investment 20%-60% Shares sector and the Growth and Balanced funds are second quartile in their respective sectors.