Do independent asset managers perform better than bank-run funds?
Lipper was recently approached to analyse the difference in performance between funds operated by broader financial services companies (banks and insurers) and those managed by ‘pure play’ asset managers.
This research came in the wake of comments made by Peter Hargreaves, founder of IFA Hargreaves Lansdown, who said in September that many funds in the UK run by banks were “seriously crap”.
With the temperature apparently rising, it might be a little foolhardy to enter such a debate. Yet objective analysis is surely where independent fund researchers can best provide a useful contribution. Besides, it might be gettin’ hot in here, but I for one will not be takin’ off my clothes.
For those wanting the details of my approach, please scroll to the foot of this article. For those with shorter attention spans, we can cut to the chase and reveal that for ‘pure players’, or what are sometimes called independent asset managers, the greatest proportion of funds were most commonly in the first and fifth quintiles (the worst and best relative performers), presenting a u-shaped curve for the distribution of these groups’ fund returns. This pattern was most pronounced for 3- and 5-year performance, while over 10 years the differentiation between quintiles is smaller.
Click here for the charts for UK-domiciled funds: http://r.reuters.com/ren77r
Turning to banks and insurers, an inverse pattern was more dominant with a smaller proportion of top and bottom performers (fifth and first quintiles) and a higher proportion of second to fourth quintile funds – an n-shaped curve. Encouragingly for banks and insurers, this pattern tended to flatten over time with a more even spread of funds in different quintiles over 10 years.