Closet tracker funds appear to double to 17

This article is part of
Summer Investment Monitor - June 2015

Santander points out that inherited holdings in FTSE 100 “index heavyweights” such as BP and GlaxoSmithKline have been sold, while new holdings have been established in mid caps including Berkeley Group and Savills.

The NFU Mutual Growth fund has not been identified as a closet tracker since 2012 but an active share of 41 per cent and an R-squared of 0.98 has seen it return as a potential tracker fund this year.

Paul Glover, chief investment manager at NFU Mutual, says: “The UK Growth fund has a mandate to outperform the FTSE All-Share over the long term. None of our funds are designed to be merely tracking an index and this has certainly not been our experience.”

He continues: “The fund aims to hold a significant portion in larger cap stocks and so will naturally have a commonality with the FTSE All-Share index.

“We decide how to allocate assets based on the qualities of the underlying investments and are transparent about our holdings, performance, charges and fees.”

A number of fund houses have come out recently in support of publishing active shares, promising to disclose the active share of all their funds.

BlackRock says: “We believe that active share data can be a useful tool as one of many risk metrics used to analyse and screen actively managed funds, but that it should not be viewed in isolation or be overly relied upon as a determinant of performance.”

Its BlackRock UK Equity fund appears as a potential closet tracker fund for the first time this year.

The IA North America sector has only two closet tracker funds this year, although the Legg Mason ClearBridge US Appreciation fund appears for the third consecutive year.

The Candriam Quant Equities USA fund is the only other North America fund to make the closet trackers list this year, although Bart Goosens, global head of quantitative equity management for the Candriam Quant Equities USA fund, disputes the findings.

He says: “A tracker or closet tracker fund tracks the benchmark and has, by consequence, a low level of turnover. The investment strategy applied to Candriam Quant Equities USA takes into account relevant changes concerning the companies in the investment universe on both short and long horizons.

“This implies that turnover applied to this fund is over 100 per cent per year. This is much higher than that of a tracker/closet tracker fund.”

Ellie Duncan is deputy features editor at Investment Adviser

The metric: How we worked it out

Using data from Morningstar, we looked at all the funds in the Investment Association UK All Companies, North America, Europe ex UK and Global Emerging Markets sectors to identify actively managed funds with annualised R-squared values of 0.95 or more for the three years to April 30 2015. This limit is based on the average R-squared value for all passive funds within the sector.