Investments 

Manager makes millions despite fund losing money

Manager makes millions despite fund losing money

Fund manager Richard Woolnough was paid £16.6m last year, despite his flagship fund losing more than 3 per cent.

Mr Woolnough manages about £20bn in the M&G Optimal Income fund, which lost 3.8 per cent in 2018, compared with an average loss of 2.4 per cent for the average fund in the IA Sterling Corporate Bond sector in the same time period.

The pay was calculated on a three-year performance basis and the fund returned more than twice the sector average in the three years to the end of February.

The fund also returned 104 per cent over the past decade, compared with 98 per cent for the average fund in the sector.

The information about his pay was contained in the annual report of Prudential, the parent company, which listed its highest paid employee as earning £16.6bn, and added that the individual was not a member of the company’s board of directors.

The same report showed the highest paid employee in 2016 earned £9.3m, and £11.8m in 2017.

Prudential declined to comment about pay for any employee.

In a recent presentation to investors, Mr Woolnough said the fund was positioned for global economic growth to continue. He believes his judgement of the economic outlook will be central to his success as a bond fund manager.

Mr Woolnough earned his initial reputation in fund management as one of the few bond fund managers to notice a problem with the mis-pricing of bank bonds prior to the financial crisis.

He published a blog warning of a looming crisis, and the funds he managed grew rapidly in size as a result.

Ben Yearsley, a director at Shore Financial Planning, said: "I like Richard and the M&G team generally. I think he's an excellent macro bond manager who gets the big calls right more often than not."

Mr Yearsley does not currently own the bond but has done so in the past. He also held various M&G funds, including the global macro bond fund, which he currently holds.

david.thorpe@ft.com