Insight changes at top see Rees in lead role

Insight Investment has promoted Tim Rees to lead manager of the £767m Equity High Income fund and has appointed Mark Burgess as head of equities.

Rees steps up from being deputy manager of the fund for the last eight years under William Claxton-Smith, who managed the fund since its launch in 1984. Claxton-Smith is to reduce his investment management responsibilities to become part of Insight’s investor responsibility team looking at corporate governance.

Under his management the fund has outperformed the FTSE All-Share index by an average of 1.6 percentage points per year, as at the end of 2003, offer to bid, net income reinvested, according to Lipper. In 2003, however, it underperformed the sector and index.

Rees has also managed the Insight Monthly Income fund, investing in a mix of equities and bonds, since January 1996. He says: “The amount of change I will make will be relatively limited as I understand where the fund has come from and where it will go.

“I am more optimistic about the market than a lot of people. The FTSE 100 has a valuation potential of 5200, although I reserve the right to change this at the drop of a hat. But where I came from was very bearish between 2000 and 2003. I went from underweight in equities in my Monthly Income fund [relative to bonds] to overweight in February, just before the market turned. I am heavily underweight bonds: at 20% of the Monthly Income fund it’s the lowest percentage possible.

“I took the opportunity to increase the beta of the fund and that style has run well. I am looking at beta stocks in self-help sectors and if my FTSE 100 valuation is to be reached then the large sectors need to perform. I am heavily in telecoms for an income manager.”

Burgess, 41, will join Insight as head of equities from American Express Asset Management, where he is chief investment officer, in March. Amex acquired Threadneedle last year, but the London group has taken over management of most non-US assets.