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Mark Barnett leaving Invesco shouldn’t surprise but Lucy Macdonald leaving Brunner is disappointing
Thursday 21 May 2020 Author: Ian Conway

It’s been a week of big changes in the UK fund management industry with the departure of several high-profile managers including Mark Barnett from Invesco who has struggled with a long period of underperformance.

The Invesco High Income (B8N46L7) and Invesco UK Income (B8N46V7) funds, which Barnett took over running from Neil Woodford, will be co-managed by James Goldstone and Ciaran Mallon. The Invesco Strategic Income (B1W7J42) fund will merge with Invesco Income.

As well as underperforming the FTSE All-Share over a prolonged period, Barnett came in for criticism for his holdings in unquoted and difficult to trade smaller companies, which led to heavy write-downs of both the main funds in March.

In April Invesco and Barnett were served notice by the board of Perpetual Income and Growth (PLI) for running the investment trust.

‘It perhaps comes as no surprise to see the new chief investment officer (Stephanie Butcher) at Invesco ringing the changes, given that the UK Equity business has seen significant outflows in recent years with the flagship funds shrinking from £24.9bn (Invesco Income and High Income) in July 2013, prior to the departure of Neil Woodford from Invesco, to £4.9bn now,’ says Numis.

‘Outflows continued after the initial shock of Woodford’s exit as performance of the funds under Mark Barnett continued to disappoint. This reflected underperformance of the value style and a focus on defensive stocks (tobacco, healthcare and insurers).

‘In addition, the portfolios had a significant bias towards UK domestic stocks which the manager believed offer significant value, whilst he was underweight highly-rated consumer goods businesses. There were also a number of stock-specific issues.’

Elsewhere, Lucy Macdonald, lead manager of Brunner Investment Trust (BUT), has left after asset manager Allianz Global Investors decided to create a new team to manage global equity products.

Brunner will now be led by Matthew Tillett who has helped Macdonald to run the investment trust for several years and is described by investment bank Stifel as a ‘sensible pair of hands’.

Giles Hargreave, AAA-rated manager of the Marlborough Special Situations Fund (B907GH2), has announced he will step back from managing money at the end of this year as part of the firm’s long-term succession plan.

Hargreave, who has run the special situations fund since 1998 as well as Marlborough’s micro-cap and nano-cap strategies, had returned 2,746% in the small-cap fund as of the start of April compared with a 384% gain for the Numis Smaller Companies benchmark, according to Citywire.

From next year the three funds will be run by Eustace Santa Barbara, co-manager of the special situations strategy for the last five years, and Guy Feld who has co-managed both the smaller fund strategies for several years.

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