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Top 5 equity fund management groups in focus

10 April 2016

Fund managers are far from equal and choosing the right fund group can make a huge difference to your returns.

FundCalibre's 2016 Fund Management Equity Index* shows a significant gap in performance between the best and the worst groups. Here, we look in a bit more detail at the top five groups, and the biggest gainers and losers in the index this year.

FundCalibre's Fund Management Equity Index 2016:

  1. The top 10, results in brief
  2. What does the index tell us?
  3. More about the top five, biggest gainers and biggest fallers (this page)
  4. Risk-adjusted results
  5. Download the full list
  6. View the methodology

Top five equity fund managers

Percentage figures show the average fund's 5 year outperformance for each fund group.

Unicorn – 36% outperformance

Small-cap specialist Unicorn topped our index for a second year in a row. 2015 was another great year for Unicorn with all their qualifying funds making double digit returns for their investors. All their funds comfortably outperformed their peers except for the UK Smaller Companies, which was in line with its Investment Association (IA) sector average.

Stewart Investors – 28% outperformance

Stewart Investors (formerly First State Stewart) are specialists in Asia and Emerging markets. In 2015 the team was re-structured and split in two. They were worried that their teams were becoming too big and Stewart's philosophy has always been that, 'scale is the enemy of performance'. Despite the changes it has been another solid year with all their qualifying
funds outperforming their sector averages.

Old Mutual – 23% outperformance

Old Mutual is again the first manager to feature in our index that is not just a specialist in one area. Their average fund outperformed by an exceptional 23%. Old Mutual had 17 qualifying funds, one of the highest number, so their performance was incredibly consistent. Their performance was led by their traditionally strong UK mid and small cap funds.

T Rowe Price – 20% outperformance

T Rowe Price gained six places on last year to break into the top five of our list. T Rowe is a large global asset manager with over $750bn under management. Their performance was consistently excellent with all their funds outperforming their peers. Four of T Rowe's funds are in the IA North America sector, where there performance was particularly strong.

River and Mercantile – 20% outperformance

River and Mercantile are a small boutique asset manager that mainly focus on UK equities. Their stand out fund is Philip Rodrig's smaller companies fund, which is 70% ahead of its peers over the past five years, helping propel the group to fifth place in our index.

Biggest gains in the index

Aviva Investors – up 25 places

Aviva Investors have to be happy with their recent performance. All but one of their qualifying funds beat their sector average in 2015. That led them to jump 25 places in our index from 49th to 24th place. Mark Denham's European equity fund was the best performer. Impressively, 86% of funds beat their peers over the past five years.

Alliance Trust Investments – up 18 places

Alliance Trust Investments has been in the papers a lot after a long-running dispute with activist investors Elliot Advisors. Ms Garrett-Cox, former CEO of the fund management arm, has left the company. However fund performance improved markedly over the past year. Alliance Trust Investments jumped from 38th to 20th place. All their four qualifying funds beat their peers during 2015.

Man GLG – up 15 places

Man GLG jumped 15 positions in our index to 17th place with their average fund now 8.66% ahead of the market over the past five years. The improvement was almost entirely driven by Rory Powe's Continental European Growth fund, which returned an impressive 31% in 2015. The UK Income funds also had very good performance last year.

Newton – up 15 places

Overall Newton had an excellent 2015 and jumped 15 places in our index to 25th position. Newton's global and UK funds all performed particularly well despite some weaker performance in Asia. The flag-ship Newton Global Income fund had another strong year, beating the sector by 8% despite a change in manager. Paul Stephany delivered strong performance for Newton's UK funds.

Biggest fallers in the index

JO Hambro Capital Management (JOHCM) – down 18 places

It was a disappointing year for JOHCM, which was the biggest faller in our list, dropping from 5th place to 23rd. The long-term five year track record for JOHCM is still extremely strong with the average fund beating the market by 7% and 89% of funds outperforming. JOHCM did see exceptionally strong performance for its two Asian funds last year but these two funds don't yet have a five year track record and are currently excluded from the index.

Aberdeen – down 11 places

Sadly Aberdeen continues to struggle and fell further down our league table to 63rd place. Aberdeen's struggles have been well documented in the press and they have not been helped by weak emerging markets, an area in which they are traditionally strong. It is worth remembering that the long-term track record of Aberdeen in Asia and Emerging Markets is still good.

Scottish Widows HIMFL – down 11 places

Scottish Widows HIMFL funds were taken over by Aberdeen in 2014. The funds remain under the Scotish Widows HIMFL brand and are therefore considered seperately. Weak performance in Asia offset better performance in Europe in 2015.

Lazard – down 10 places

Lazard fell back in our index after a mediocre year the fund finished in 37th place. However the avearage fund continues to outperform by 3% over the past five years. The Lazard European Smaller companies fund continued to do particularly well and returned 27% for investors in 2015.

View our Fund Management Equity Index 2015 and our Fund Management Bond Index 2015.

*A bit about the index

FundCalibre's Fund Management Equity Index looks at the majority of actively managed equity funds recognised by the Investment Association and compares them with their sector averages over a five year timeframe.

Each fund group's funds are then collected together to calculate the group's average fund performance. Fund groups must have a minimum of four qualifying funds to be included in the index.

Read more on the methodology

Go to the next page in this report (2/4)

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns. Please note the Fund Management Equity Index does not constitute investment advice. If you are in any doubt as to the suitability of any investment you should seek professional advice. An appearance of any fund on this index is not an indication it should be bought, sold or switched.

This is a purely statistical chart. All cumulative statistics % change bid to bid, net income reinvested, five years to 31/12/2015. Source FE Analytics. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, FundCalibre takes no responsibility for any errors, omissions or inaccuracies therein.