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What it takes to be a top fund manager


Key characteristics which shone out in the winners of the top categories at this year’s Zenith Investment Partners awards were a pioneering spirit and persistence.

The winner of the ‘Fund Manager of the Year’ award, Perpetual Asset Management, can boast possibly the oldest Australian equities fund, and adherence to its long-term focus and value style over many years.

  • Similarly, the ‘Distributor of the Year’, multi-affiliate manager Fidante Partners, is otherwise known as an incubator of talent for its current crop of 15 affiliates. And the winner of the ‘Industry Contribution Award’, ClearBridge’s Richard Elmslie (main photo above), is known as a pioneer of infrastructure investing for both retail and individual investors in Australia.

    The tenth annual awards were hosted in Melbourne last Friday (October 15) in a live-stream event for advisers and managers – the second in a row to be virtual due to Covid-19 restrictions, allowing presenters to be more upbeat than last year’s pre-recordings.

    Continuing another theme for the coveted awards, the three finalists for ‘Fund Manager of the Year’ – Perpetual, Macquarie Asset Management and Pendal Group – also performed well in other categories.

    This year, Perpetual was also the winner in ‘Australian Equities – Alternative Strategies’ and Multi-Asset – Real Return’. Macquarie won in ‘Global and Diversified Fixed Interest’ and ‘International Equities – Global’ (jointly with the manufacturer Arrowstreet Capital). Pendal won in ‘Sustainable and Responsible Investments’.

    Richard Elmslie, too, can take much of the credit for ClearBridge Investments taking out the ‘Infrastructure’ award.

    In his acceptance speech for the ‘Industry Contribution Award’, Elmslie cast his mind back to 2003-2004 when he started work on RARE Infrastructure, which was re-branded in January of this year after integration with the US ClearBridge after its multi-affiliate manager, Legg Mason, was acquired by Franklin Templeton.

    Elmslie said that the motivation with RARE was to bring the characteristics of the infrastructure asset class to the mums-and-dads investors for the first time, pioneering listed infrastructure active management and providing a traditional retail investment structure.

    “We wanted to provide them with the same stable risk-adjusted return profiles, previously only available to institutional investors,” he said. “It is very satisfying to go out and meet people knowing that you have helped them with their retirement savings.”

    Rob Adams

    Rob Adams, the chief executive of Perpetual, said that the last full financial year was exceptional for the firm across all asset sectors. “It’s exciting for us to be coming out of ten years of growth over value. Despite the headwinds from a style perspective [Perpetual being one of Australia’s oldest value managers] we are now coming through the other side.”

    He said: “We really value this recognition highly… And I’d like to congratulate David [Wright, the Zenith chief executive] and the team too.”

    Nick Hamilton

    Nick Hamilton, the chief executive of Fidante, Challenger International’s funds management business, said that his ‘Distributor of the Year’ award recognised the efforts across so many people in the business, from the 15 boutiques themselves, to the research teams, key accounts managers, investment specialists and sales.

    David Wright, chief executive and co-founder of Zenith, said that distribution was becoming increasingly important in the industry because of the increasing competitiveness of many asset sectors, especially global and Australian equities, the two biggest asset classes from an allocation perspective.

    In his introduction to the presentations, Wright said that it had been a “huge week’ for the research firm, not only because of all the work going into the awards but also because of the sale of the private-equity-backed Zenith to global data and technology company FE Fundinfo, announced on October 6.

    “It is humbling to receive all the congratulations that we have,” Wright said. “We are very excited about the next phase of our journey… We will be able to leverage a lot of our IP and products for FE globally and enhance our offering to clients in Australia.”

    The winners in all categories were:

    Fund Manager of the Year
    Perpetual Asset Management Australia

    Distributor of the Year
    Fidante Partners

    Industry Contribution Award
    Richard Elmslie

    Rising Star
    Eiger Capital

    Sustainable and Responsible Investments
    Pendal Group

    Australian Equities – Large Cap
    Bennelong Australian Equity Partners

    Australian Equities – Small Cap
    Spheria Asset Management

    Australian Equities – Alternative Strategies
    Perpetual Asset Management Australia

    International Equities – Global Small Cap
    Fairlight Asset Management

    International Equities – Global
    Macquarie Asset Management/Arrowstreet Capital

    International Equities – Alternative Strategies
    PM Capital

    International Equities – Emerging Markets & Regional
    CC RWC Global Emerging Markets Fund

    Multi Asset – Real Return
    Perpetual Asset Management Australia

    Multi Asset – Diversified

    Alternative Strategies
    Firetrail Investments

    Listed Entities
    Metrics Credit Partners

    Australian Fixed Interest
    Realm Investment House

    Global & Diversified Fixed Interest
    Macquarie Asset Management

    ClearBridge Investments Limited

    Real Assets
    Charter Hall Group

    Global REIT
    Quay Global Investors

    Cromwell Funds Management

    For other coverage and information, including finalists in all categories, go to www.zenithpartners.com.au

    Greg Bright

    Greg has worked in financial services-related media for more than 30 years. He is a former economics writer for the Sydney Morning Herald and assistant editor and business editor for the Australian Financial Review. Greg has founded many magazines, newsletters and conferences in the funds management industry. Titles he has launched include: Super Review, Investor Daily, IFA, Investor Weekly, Investor Supermarket, SMSF Magazine, the Blue Book, Investment Magazine, I&T News, Professional Planner, Top1000Funds.com, IO&C News, Investor Strategy News and New Investor.

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