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Schroders' Sym to join River & Mercantile

Schroders' Sym to join River & Mercantile

James Sym is to join asset manager River & Mercantile as it looks to launch a range of European funds.

Mr Sym, who manages Schroders’ European Alpha Income and Alpha Plus funds and is part of the pan-European equity team, is set to join River & Mercantile in June this year.

He will work with Hugh Sergeant and the broader equities team at River & Mercantile, which currently manages a range of strategies in UK, global and emerging market equities.

River & Mercantile is also developing a suite of European focused funds, the first of which will be launched in the summer.

James Barham, group chief executive of River and Mercantile, said: “We are delighted to welcome an individual of Mr Sym’s calibre to the group.

“[He] has a wealth of experience in these markets and follows a pragmatic investment approach, which has some broad similarities with the approach established by Hugh Sergeant and Dan Hanbury in 2006.”

Mr Barham said Mr Sym was one of the “strongest valuation conscious managers in European equity”, adding the coming period would be “very exciting” for investors in River & Mercantile’s funds.

Mr Sym said he was excited to be joining the business as it had a great equities team, proven philosophy and process, and a determination to provide clients with solutions that were designed to meet their changing needs.

At Schroders, the £387m European Alpha Income fund has lost 30 per cent over the past three years while Mr Sym’s £167m Alpha Plus fund has lost 26 per cent over the same time period.

Mr Sym also co-manages the tiny European Alpha Focus and European Opportunities funds, £42m and £123m in size respectively.

These funds have also underperformed their peers on a one-, three- and five-year basis.

This is partly down to Mr Sym’s value-style of investing, which has been out of favour for the past decade.

Value funds tend to outperform growth funds when economic growth is strong and persistent, inflation is rising and the stock market has been going up.

This is because in that environment investors focus less on the growth rates of a company, because almost all companies are growing, and instead focus on the valuation of the company.

When economic growth is weak, and few companies are growing their business, investors tend to focus on the companies that are growing, and so pay less attention to the valuation.

Darius McDermott, director of FundCalibre, said Mr Sym would be a “good fit” at River & Mercantile.

He said: “He is a well-known retail manager in the retail market. The majority of what River & Mercantile does has a value lean, so he will be a good fit.”

Chris Taylor, head of European equities at Schroders, said: ”We’re fortunate to have a well resourced European equity division with experienced portfolio management teams with excellent long term fund performance.