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Boutique Manager of the Year: Equity


Ardevora keeps it nice and simple. It manages four global and UK equity funds by trying to exploit the irrational behaviour of company managers, investors and analysts. Its largest fund, the £584.5 million Ardevora Global Equity Fund, launched in 2011, has returned 20.79% for the year to June 30, compared to its IA Global TR benchmark of 6.68%. Its £291 million Ardevora Global Long-Only Equity Fund, returned 19.76% in the same timeframe versus the same benchmark. Meanwhile, its £150.8 million UK equity fund returned 9.87% compared to its IA UK All Companies benchmark, which recorded a loss of 4.10%. Completing the impressive performance line-up its UK income fund, with some £221.3 million in assets, returned 3.16% compared to its IA UK Equity Income TR benchmark which recorded a loss of 1.82%. The firm was founded in 2010 by fund managers Jeremy Lang and William Pattisson.


Terry Smith set up Fundsmith in 2010 partly in protest at the asset management industry. At the time he said: “If most funds had done well in the past 10 years we probably would not have created Fundsmith. But they haven’t.” Now six years later Smith has certainly proved his point against the mainstream asset management sector. The firm’s Fundsmith Equity Fund, which has swelled to £7.1 billion in assets, returned 31.85 % in the 12 months to June 30 compared to -2.19% for the MSCI World Index. Since the fund’s November 2010 inception it has returned a cumulative 169.3% net of fees, equating to an annualised return of 19.1%. Smith runs a concentrated portfolio of between 20 and 30 stocks which boasts an active share of 93%. He looks to invest in high quality, high certainty and resilient businesses for the long-term. Highlighting this, the year in which most of the companies he invests in were founded was 1912. Smith also set up the Fundsmith Emerging Equities Trust in June 2014. Since inception its net asset value is up 4% and 11.6% for the year to June 30.

Lindsell Train

The clear winner of 2015’s boutique manager of the year category, Lindsell Train has continued doing what it does best – making money for its investors. Its £2.4 billion UK equity fund returned 6.6% in the year to June 30, 2016 compared to the FTSE All Share Index which delivered 2.2%. Its £1.6 billion global equity fund returned 18% in the same timeframe compared to the MSCI World Index which recorded 14.4%. Its other equity fund, its £84 million Japanese equity fund lost 7.9% in the period, however this still compares favourably to the 22% loss recorded by the fund’s benchmark. The Lindsell Train Investment Trust has seen its net asset value increase by 20.8% in the 12-month period, compared to the MSCI World Index increasing by 14.4%. The firm’s three investment principles are to run client money as it would its own, align its interests alongside its clients and to take the long view. The London-based firm was founded by Michael Lindsell and Nick Train, formerly of GT Management, in 2000.  

Sanlam FOUR Investments

Sanlam FOUR has quietly gone about establishing itself as an exceptionally competent boutique equity manager. Founded by its chief executive Derrick Dunne alongside three ex-Schroders UK equities managers in 2006, the £4.8 billion fund manager, which does not impose an overall house style, has continued to build out its fund strategies. In particular, its global and recently launched US equity funds are already clocking up robust performance figures. The £95.3 million Stable Global Equity fund, set up in 2012, returned 3.5%  in the year ended May 31, and positioned well for Brexit, posting 17.8% for the year ended June 30, well ahead of its CPI+6% target. The fund has also delivered an annualised return of 15.3% since inception, significantly eclipsing its target which has produced 6.7%. In similar fashion, its US Dividend Income fund, launched in December 2014, has returned 29%  in sterling terms in the same 12-month period, while the MSCI North America index has generated 20%. The strategy, managed by Adour Sarkissian, had attracted assets of £96.6 million by June 30. In December 2014, Dunne and his team sold a majority stake in the firm to South African financial services group Sanlam.


Swiss asset manager Unigestion describes its equities strategy as “a Volvo in a world of Ferraris”. The firm says that rather than chase stocks that are likely to outperform, it seeks to avoid stocks that are likely to underperform in a bid to provide its clients with consistent returns and less volatility. The approach looks to have found favour with investors. In the year to May 31 the firm had net inflows into its equities range of €642 billion while total equity assets under management have increased from €8.4 billion at the end of 2014 to €10.3 billion by March 31, 2016. In the year to May 31, all of its long-only equity strategies have beaten their benchmarks net of fees, as well as delivered comparatively reduced volatility in the three years to May 31. Although its flagship €2.3 billion European equities fund, Uni-Global-Equities Europe, returned -4.86% net of fees in the year to May 31, it still outperformed its Stoxx Europe 600 benchmark by 5.76%. Its volatility was recorded as 13.56% over three years compared to its benchmark of 16.49% in the same period.