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Desolation Row

While its fund managers will hardly be scouring Edinburgh's streets for coal to heat their homes this winter, it has hardly been a vintage year for Baillie Gifford.

Across the retail book of business, the fund house has had outflows of £6.6bn this year according to Morningstar, though the retail AUM of £42bn is still chunky.

The travails of the fund house's flagship Scottish Mortgage investment trust are well documented but it is the firm's lower profile £3.2bn Diversified Growth fund which has had the largest outflow of any of its mandates this year, with investors withdrawing £1.8bn this year, and £285m in September alone.

That also makes it the fund with the largest outflows in the entire retail UK market, according to Morningstar.

It's quite a quirky fund - sitting in the Absolute Return sector, investing in a range of other Baillie Gifford funds and also third party funds and exchange traded notes.

It has never been owned by any of the allocators we cover. It has lost 18 per cent over the past year, and 6.5 per cent over the past three years.

The Morningstar data revealed net outflows from equity funds of £8bn in September, the worst number ever recorded by this data point. Total outflows from actively managed funds during the month was £9.9bn. 

Growth equity funds dominated the outflows, with further withdrawals from Fundsmith and Lindsell Train during the month, but the firm that had the most cash pulled was BlackRock, with its World ex-UK tracker having withdrawals of £442m, its Absolute Return Bond fund losing £600m, and its UK and US trackers losing a combined £850m in September.

Those figures meant BlackRock had four of the five funds with the highest withdrawals in September, and the firm as a whole had outflows of £2.4bn in September.

The firm with the next highest outflows was Aviva Investors, at just over £1bn. It also has the largest outflows over the past year among the 10 largest players in the UK market, with over £8bn in outflows. 

One firm which will be celebrating is Ruffer, with two of their mandates bucking the wider trend and recording net inflows this month, the Ruffer Portfolio fund, and the Ruffer Diversified Return fund both being in demand. 

The £1.5bn Diversified Return fund is held by two of the allocators on our database, both of whom made their purchase in the second quarter of this year.

Given that the fund was only launched last year, this is something of an achievement. It has also only lost 0.46 per cent this year so far.

Ruffer has spent much of the past decade preparing portfolios for a world of much higher inflation. For a long time that didn't come, but this year has very much vindicated Ruffer's worldview.

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