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Platinum looks within to replace top performing manager


The departure of top performing Asia Fund manager Joseph Lai before Christmas has forced contrarian value manager Platinum Asset Management into some leadership changes. The company announced to the ASX recently that Clay Smolinksi, who is currently the Portfolio Manager of the Platinum International and Unhedged Funds would be promoted to co-CIO with Andrew Clifford.

Smolinski joined Platinum in 2006 as an analyst and having worked his way through the ranks must now been considered a potential successor for the value-oriented firm. The appointment will take effect from 1 April 2021 and comes after a difficult period for the fund manager which saw another $149 million in outflows in December as the performance of their core International Fund continues to underperform, growing just 3.3% per annum over the last five years compared to 10.6 per cent of the MSCI benchmark.

There are, however, signs that the value versus growth story is beginning to turn, something we covered in our article here. With around 75 per cent of Platinum’s funds outperforming their benchmark amid the vaccine lead value recovery to finish off 2020, only time will tell if this rally can continue amid greater volatility in 2021.

  • The role of Portfolio Manager of the top performing Asia ex Japan Fund, replacing Dr Joseph Lai will fall primarily to Andrew Clifford, who will be responsible for 75 per cent of fund investments. He will be managing the portfolio alongside Cameron Robertson in what appears to be a mentoring position with the announcement stating ‘Andrew to manage the majority of the portfolios’ assets. Robertson brings a growth-oriented background to the position having co-managed the International Technology Fund from early 2017.

    Whilst key competitor Magellan Financial Group (ASX: MFG) are seeking to diversify through recent private equity investments into the Barrenjoey investment bank and Guzman y Gomez, Platinum is clearly doubling down on what they know best.

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