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Revealed: Gars pain grows with £17.2 billion blow

We've crunched the data on Gars and it is not looking good for the multi-asset strategy

Revealed: Gars pain grows with £17.2 billion blow

Aberdeen Standard's Gars and its offspring at Invesco and Aviva have lost billions in assets since the start of 2018. 

We have crunched the numbers to reveal Gars bore the brunt of this sell-off, with investors pulling an eye-watering £17.2 billion from the strategy since the beginning of last year across UK, European and US versions of the fund.

Our findings, which come ahead of Aberdeen Standard's full-year results tomorrow, are based on Lipper data. They show the fund has more than halved in value in 14 months, from £32.8 billion at the beginning of 2018 to just £14.4 billion at the end of February this year.

The UK version of the fund alone has suffered a £9.8 billion estimated net outflow over the same period, with assets falling from £20.7 billion to £10 billion. This compares with outflows of £4.9 billion from the European Sicav and a further £2.4 billion from their distribution tie-up with John Hancock in the US.

While the numbers are large, it is unlikely to be the extent of the outflows. SLI formed similar distribution deals with banks in Japan during the product's heyday, in addition to segregated institutional mandates.

The withdrawals were at their peak in November and December of last year, with estimated net outflows of £2.7 billion and £2.4 billion respectively.

In total, the fund had net outflows of £6.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018. The scale of the redemptions has tempered in 2019, yet still £1.1 billion has been pulled in both January and February.

The outflows come at a time when the performance of all but the most aggressive mixed assets funds have suffered as global equity markets have continued their decade-long rally.

Gars offspring also struggle

Gars has taken the brunt of the outflows – but the reality is its two closest competitors have been lacklustre when it comes to performance.

Invesco Global Targeted Returns (GTR) and Aviva Investors Multi-Strategy Target Return (Aims) – which were both established by former members of the Gars team –  have also suffered outflows over the same time frame.

However, the figures are much more modest at £2.3 billion and £1.5 billion respectively over the 14-month period. This has led to Gars being usurped by GTR as the largest of the trio of sophisticated multi-asset funds.

Over the past three years all funds are in the red, with losses of 2.7% for Gars, compared with 1.2% for GTR and 4.6% for Aims.

All three have lagged behind the Alternative Ucits Multi-Strategy peer group average, which has gained 2.3% over the same time frame. This compares with a 30.4% gain by the FTSE All-Share and an 8% rise in the value of gilts.

Aims in particular had a woeful end to the year, falling 5.2% in December’s turbulent market, greater even than the 3.8% decline in the value of the FTSE All-Share – by contrast Gars fell 0.3%, while GTR turned in a respectable 0.5% gain.

In total, the global Alternative Ucits - Multi-strategy peer group has had net outflows of £22.5 billion over the period, with the trio contributing £21 billion to that figure.

JP Morgan leads the funds taking in the most net new money in the peer group, with James Elliot and Shrenick Shah’s Global Macro Opportunities fund up £1.7 billion net over the period across both UK and European versions. While Amundi is in second place with its Absolute Return Multi-Strategy Fund having net inflows of £0.8 billion.

Across the multi-asset spectrum, though, Allianz Income and Growth has been the best-selling fund in Europe over this period – in any asset class – taking in £7.1 billion of net new money.

While the H2O Adagio fund is in second with £4.4 billion, the global macro fund soft-closed to new investment in May 2018.

Read more from 2018: IFAs keep faith in absolute return funds despite Gars woes.

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