Hargreaves: Woodford debacle could lead to buy list scepticism

Hargreaves: Woodford debacle could lead to buy list scepticism

One of the founders of Hargreaves Lansdown has said the debacle surrounding the Woodford Equity Income fund could lead to investors becoming more sceptical of buy lists.

Mr Hargreaves retains a 32 per cent stake in platform provider Hargreaves Lansdown, but has no involvement in the day-to-day running of the business.

He said "it would be wrong" to say markets had done well in recent years, rather than certain fund managers - such as Terry Smith and Nick Train - had done better than their peers.

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Mr Hargreaves said: "There has also been a lot of flighty growth in the market, in things like pharma and biotech, and a lot of those go bust in the end.

"Illiquid assets should not be held in open-ended funds, it’s that simple, and I think a lot of people realise now after what happened with Woodford, I certainly hope there is a change.

"The reality is platform buy lists, especially the Hargreaves Lansdown one, have been key to the fortunes of some fund managers. Maybe the Woodford issue will mean people take them with a pinch of salt in future."

He added: "The average fund manager has not done very well over the past decade, that’s because they keep looking backwards. They decide there is a period where small caps always do well, or when cyclical stocks do well, or value stocks do well, and try to conform to that. But that’s just old thinking.

"The idea that you can buy these things based on history, and keep them in a drawer until they do well, but that’s just old thinking. Two sectors that represent this are retail and property. Property is going to be worth less in future, because people use the internet for shopping now.

"It used to be if you wanted something you had to drive to a store, and queue and buy it, it could take three hours, now it can be done online, and you get it the next day anyway, its marvellous, but it means property and retail will be worth less.

"I think 90 per cent of the value type stocks will go bust, but some managers buy them and are waiting for them to come back, but that’s not going to happen."

Mr Hargreaves is chairman of Blue Whale Capital, and has a holding worth more than £40m in the Blue Whale Growth fund, a global equity mandate for which he provided the seed capital. The fund has grown to £211m in size and has returned 10 per cent over the past year, compared with 4 per cent for the average fund in the IA Global sector. 

He said the Blue Whale fund was not on any buy lists and he felt, given its strong performance to date, it had not had the credit it deserved. 

Mr Hargreaves said: “We want there to be lots of funds that have done well, as that’s good for the market. I am not actually thrilled with how much money we have raised for Blue Whale so far.