Fighting the flows

July 15, 2013

Sanjeev Shah, the Fidelity fund manager who took over the UK portion of Anthony Bolton’s storied Special Situations fund, must wonder what it will take to get clients back on side.

Shah, a 17-year Fidelity veteran, can claim to have turned round a soft patch in performance, and is now consistently outdoing fellow UK equity funds. But the money keeps heading out.

The fund has suffered net outflows in 34 out of the last 35 months, according to estimates from Lipper. Total net outflows over the last three years are put at 1.1 billion pounds. The chart below makes the trend pretty clear.

Fidelity doesn’t comment on flows numbers at individual funds, but did not contradict the Lipper estimates when the numbers were put to them. Understandably, perhaps, the company is more keen to talk about recovering performance at the fund. You can see Lipper’s data on how the fund has performed relative to its UK equity peers in the chart below, which highlights the earlier peaks and troughs that might have startled more skittish investors. For Fidelity’s part, a spokeswoman said that the fund has now beaten 83 percent of its peers over the 5-1/2 years since Shah took over the reins.

Bolton was always going to be a hard act to follow.

He made Special Situations a cornerstone of many UK investors’ portfolios and became a darling of the investment press as assets under management at his combined fund climbed to more than 11 billion pounds at its height.

Now though, it is Bolton stomaching troubled times at the China fund he came out of retirement to run, just as his protege comes good. Fidelity can only hope the clients start to notice.


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An additional thought on this: funds investing in UK equities in general have been seriously out of favour, for example suffering withdrawals totalling €7bn to the end of May this year – the worst for any sector across the European industry (ex-money markets).

Posted by EdMoisson | Report as abusive

A fair point Ed. We should always look at performance relative to peers. Worth pointing out though that lots of individual funds are indeed pulling in net inflows despite a ho-hum general trend, 130 have pulled it off over three years, while Special Sits waved goodbye to more than £1 billion.

Posted by Joel Dimmock | Report as abusive

… oh and for what it’s worth, a more detailed looks shows us that four of those lucky funds with net inflows over three years are Jupiter Special Sits (£316 mln), Investec Special Sits (£320 mln), Old Mutual BlackRock Special Sits (£208 mln) and Neptune Special Sits (£17 mln).

Posted by Joel Dimmock | Report as abusive