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Perfect 10: a dozen top fund managers over the last decade

To mark its 10th anniversary, Citywire's Wealth Manager has highlighted some of the best fund managers of the last decade.

Active managers with 10-year track records are a rare breed, and those who have outperformed over that period are even more difficult to find.

Citywire’s head of investment research, Frank Talbot, says: ‘While many active managers will look back on the rally of the past decade with disdain and regret, there have been individuals who have stuck by their aggressive strategies, and it has paid off in a big way.

He adds: 'Less than a fifth of managers get to a 10-year track record, and even with survivorship bias, only 39% of managers were able to outperform over the past decade. So, to add value to the extent that these individuals have is highly impressive.’

To mark its 10th anniversary, Citywire's Wealth Manager has picked out fund managers with the best returns over the last 10 years in nine Citywire sectors.

Performance data is to 31/12/18. Click through the slides to see which managers have topped their sectors over the last decade.

To see all the slides on the same page, click here.

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Active managers with 10-year track records are a rare breed, and those who have outperformed over that period are even more difficult to find.

Citywire’s head of investment research, Frank Talbot, says: ‘While many active managers will look back on the rally of the past decade with disdain and regret, there have been individuals who have stuck by their aggressive strategies, and it has paid off in a big way.

He adds: 'Less than a fifth of managers get to a 10-year track record, and even with survivorship bias, only 39% of managers were able to outperform over the past decade. So, to add value to the extent that these individuals have is highly impressive.’

To mark its 10th anniversary, Citywire's Wealth Manager has picked out fund managers with the best returns over the last 10 years in nine Citywire sectors.

Performance data is to 31/12/18. Click through the slides to see which managers have topped their sectors over the last decade.

To see all the slides on the same page, click here.

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Please sign in or register to comment. It is free to register and only takes a minute or two.

Ten years ago, Alex Wright was an unknown name. But investors who took a chance on the newcomer 10 years ago have been handsomely rewarded.

No open-ended fund has delivered a better return for UK investors than Wright's 619% at the helm of Fidelity UK Smaller Companies.

Wright's success on the fund, launched in 2008, did not go unnoticed by his employers: five years ago he was handed the reins of the Fidelity Special Situations fund, once run by the legendary Anthony Bolton, having taken on the investment trust equivalent, Fidelity Special Values (FSV), in 2012.

His UK Smaller Companies fund has returned nearly double the sector average of 305% over the last decade. Performance has suffered following the Brexit vote, however, and in the wake of a particularly difficult December, Wright lost his Citywire rating for the first time. Currently, the fund has a bias towards industrials and consumer discretionary names, with the top 10 including John Laing (JLG), Serco (SRP) and Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC).

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In a decade of stellar returns from technology stocks, the trio managing the Polar Capital Global Technology fund has soared higher than their rivals.

Ben Rogoff, Nick Evans and Fatima Iu's fund has delivered 529% over the last decade. Their investment trust, Polar Capital Technology (PCT), fared even better, with the shares rallying 672% as a 20% discount to net asset value was narrowed following the financial crisis.

Three-quarters of the fund is allocated to the US and Canada, with household names such as Microsoft (MSFT.O), Amazon (AMZN.O), Apple (APPL.O) and Alphabet (GOOGL.O) in the top 10. Tencent (0700.HK) and Alibaba (BABA.K) are the only non-US companies in the top 10.

It is an understatement to say tech companies have been doing well in recent years, considering Amazon is up 3,217%, Apple is up 1,071% and Adobe (ADBE.O) – another holding in the fund – gained 1,072% over the past decade.

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Hideo Shiozumi’s Legg Mason IF Japan Equity fund has delivered a whopping 449% to investors over 10 years, but it's not been a smooth ride.

The fund's maximum drawdown, the biggest peak-to-trough loss, over the decade, stands at 23.4%, among the heaviest in Citywire's Japan sector. 

A 21% fall in the last three months of 2018 rivalled that, dragging the fund to a 2018 loss of 10.8%

But long-term investors are likely to have been happy to take the rough with the smooth given Shiozumi's track record, which has earned the fund a place on Interactive Investor's new Super 60 buy list.

In a note on recent performance, Legg Mason said: 'The fund’s investment strategy was unchanged, as it focused on domestic-oriented sectors that the manager believes will be major beneficiaries from work-style reforms. These include medical and nursing care services, outsourcing business and e-commerce. There was one new addition to the fund in December, UUUM (3990.T), an agency for “YouTubers”.'

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Larry J Puglia may not be a household name on these shores, but the US blue-chip investor has managed to deliver what many have failed to do over the last 10 years in outperforming the hard-to-beat US stock market.

He has been running US large cap funds since 1993 and his overweight in this T Rowe fund to technology names has been a significant driver of performance. The Luxembourg-based fund is accessible to UK investors but not readily available on all platforms, meaning investors may need to contact their broker if they want to buy it.

The fund’s most overweight position, at 12.6%, is to consumer discretionary names. Puglia has consistently been overweight healthcare and would have benefited from a sharp rally in this sector from the beginning of 2013. Consumer staples is the biggest underweight in the portfolio. Within tech, he has diversified across US and Chinese names, adding Tencent (0700.HK) and Alibaba (BABA.K) to the portfolio in the last quarter. Over the quarter, the main detractor from performance was Amazon (AMZN.O), while the main contributor was Tencent.

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Many will be expecting to see Terry Smith or Nick Train at the top of the global equity sector, but both are shy of a 10-year track record in running global equities.

Instead, the lesser-known Mark Urquhart, running a fund that has operated in the shadows of the investment trust whose style it shares, takes the title.

Urquhart is part of Ballie Gifford's long-term global growth team headed by James Anderson, manager of the Scottish Mortgage (SMT) investment trust.

And while Urquhart's returns don't quite match the 500% return from shares in the FTSE 100-listed trust, at 393% they are ahead of all others over the last decade.  

Those familiar with Scottish Mortgage's style won't be surprised by the companies Urquhart has favoured.

Top holdings include Amazon (AMZN.O), Tencent (0700.HK), Alibaba (BABA.K), Tesla (TLSA.O) and biotech firm Illumina (ILMN.O). Since September 2013, Urquhart has consistently held a Citywire rating. 

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Last year was was difficult for David Taylor and David Horner, but it's a measure of their long-term success that even with 2018's 14.2% loss, their Chelverton UK Equity Income fund remains well ahead of rivals over 10 years.

The small- and mid-cap specialists' fund is one of a trio focused on the smaller end of the stock market topping Citywire's UK Equity Income sector over 10 years, alongside Unicorn UK Income and Montanaro UK Income, having returned 371%.

Last year's return was the worst since the financial crisis however, resulting in the fund falling into the 'black list' in wealth manager Sanlam's regular study of income funds.

The managers said that as a UK small- and mid-cap fund it suffered due to ‘anti-UK sentiment’ and a number of company issues, like profit warnings from McColl’s (MCLSM) and Low & Bonar (LWB). They added: ‘Our reaction to the recent drawdown is the same as it has been in previous periods in that we look to improve the underlying quality of the earnings in the portfolio and rebuild capital.’

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Alexander Darwall's big holding in Wirecard (WDIG.DE) may be hitting the headlines, but it's testament to the European manager's stellar long-term returns that he retains the backing of influential investors.

Darwall has maintained an uninterrupted Citywire rating since October 2009 thanks largely to his performance at the helm of the £5.1 billion Jupiter European fund, up 272% over 10 years.

That doesn't even take into account the 451.6% return delivered by shares in his Jupiter European Opportunities (JEO) investment trust over the same period.

While Wirecard is the top holding in the fund, at 8.7% of the portfolio, that's well below the 17% position Darwall has built up in the trust, and which has acted as a weight on the shares in recent months.

The Jupiter fund typically holds between 30 and 45 companies. At the end of December, it had a 33% exposure to Germany and 14.3% to France. The main sectors it is invested in are industrials, health care and consumer goods, with the former having a 28.3% allocation.

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Outperforming in emerging markets has been all about managing the ups and downs in the market and having the patience to stick by your convictions. A decade ago, the sector was a strong performer, but lean years were to follow until 2016's rennaissance.

Citywire AAA-rated Geoffrey Wong’s outperformance shows he was able to capture the upside. The UBS fund he manages is currently overweight in China and financial services, which make up 33% and 32% of the fund, respectively. The fund's largest holdings include Taiwan Semiconductor (5425.TWO) at 6.9%, Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) at 6% and Alibaba (BABA.K) at 5.1%.

Wong is not a household name even among fund enthusiasts, and his Irish-based fund, though accessible to UK investors, is not readily available to all investors. But the UK and overseas investors who have backed to the manager, to the tune of £1.3 billion, have not been disappointed.

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Sterling corporate bonds has not been the place to be over the last decade, with returns in the space relatively limited. But Bryn Jones has squeezed more returns from the asset class than any other rival over the last 10 years.

Not only has he outperformed in this unloved sector, he has also managed to do this with the constraints of running an ethical vehicle. The largest allocation currently is to the banking and insurance sectors and the fund has a cash weighting of 3%.

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