OBSR awards winners announced

Paul Read and Paul Causer, co-managers of the £4.8 billion Invesco Corporate Bond fund, won the accolade of outstanding fund manager at tonight’s Old Broad Street Research (OBSR) investment awards.

Jupiter was named outstanding investment group. Dan Nickols, the manager of the Old Mutual UK Select Smaller companies won outstanding new talent, while Jim Stride at Axa Investment Managers was handed the award of outstanding contributor to the industry.

The outstanding fund manger, new talent and investment group awards were each based on OBSR’s qualitative research. Stride’s award, meanwhile, was voted on by the wider investment industry. Stride has managed the Axa Distribution fund for 25 years and runs nearly £11 billion of assets in the group’s life, pensions and mutual funds.

Read and Causer headed a shortlist that included Hugh Young and his team at Aberdeen, Ian Spreadbury, the manager of the Fidelity Moneybuilder Income fund and Harry Nimmo, the manager of Standard Life Investments UK Smaller Companies. The shortlist also contained two Jupiter managers, Philip Gibbs, the manager of Jupiter Financial Opportunities, and John Chatfeild-Roberts and his team, the managers of the Merlin multi-manager funds.

The award was in recognition of Read and Causer’s fund returns over the past decade, the consistency of the return, their tenure at Invesco and their assets under management, which now total £10 billion.

Nickols, meanwhile, fought off competition from Cedric de Fonclaire (Jupiter European Opportunities) and Rob Burnett (Neptune European Opportunities) to win the outstanding new talent award.

Taking over the OM UK Select Smaller Companies fund from Ashton Bradbury the start of 2004, Nickols says the last year has been the toughest of his career so far. Indeed he admits it is a year he does not feel too good about.

“I started the year defensively positioned fearing there was a risk of depression, not just recession unfolding,” he says. As a result, he admits to not having the fund positioned for the rally that arrived in March and has continued on till now. He says he has been playing catch up ever since.

“You have to accept the criticism as well as the plaudits,” he says. Despite the tough last year, Nickols’ award was recognition of his performance over the past five years and the position he has established in the market.

With 15 of its 31 funds rated by OBSR, eight of which have AAA ratings, Jupiter won outstanding group of the year.

Richard Romer Lee, the research director at OBSR, says: “We are looking to acknowledge companies committed to the retail market that have a relevant and good quality range of funds. Jupiter, despite a change of ownership, has been remarkably stable from an outsider’s perspective, and it harbours a number of outstanding managers, all of whom have managed money for a long time.

“Compared to the general UK retail universe, in which we only rate 10% of funds, we rate some 50% of Jupiter’s fund range. Meanwhile, a quarter of Jupiter’s fund range are AAA rated, whereas only 2% of the entire fund’s universe have the same rating.”

Talking about Stride’s award for outstanding contribution to the industry, Romer Lee says the manager’s philosophy and consistency in approach throughout his 25 years running the Distribution fund “has been truly enviable”.

“We estimate £1,000 invested in the original fund in July 1979 would have generated a total return of nearly 17 times that,” he adds. “It is fair to say that his achievement does not get the recognition it deserves.”

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