Edinburgh firm replaced
US giant’s new blow to Aberdeen Standard’s Gars fund
Feeling deflated: a new setback for ASI (pic: Terry Murden)
Aberdeen Standard Investments has suffered another setback after a US-based manager dropped the Edinburgh-headquartered firm’s key Gars strategy.
John Hancock will replace Aberdeen Standard Investments from the $925.7 million (£729.5m) John Hancock Global Absolute Return Strategy fund with Nordea Investment Management, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
A spokesperson for John Hancock, a distribution giant and asset manager owned by insurer Manulife, told a US wire service: “We continually review our product lineup to ensure that each fund serves the best interests of shareholders. Changing managers is not a decision we make without a great deal of research and deliberation.”
The move is the latest blow for Gars, which has suffered poor performance, manager exits and significant outflows over the last few years. The latest decision means that the group now runs just $600m in US assets.
Ahead of the merger of Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management a number of senior figures left what was called Standard Life Investments, notably the strategy’s architect Euan Munro, who departed in 2013 to join UK rival Aviva Investors as its CEO. He was replaced as lead portfolio manager by Guy Stern.
Prior to Mr Munro’s departure three of his fund managers – David Millar, Dave Jubb and Richard Batty – left to join Invesco Perpetual.
In November 2018, Stern announced his retirement from fund management. Aberdeen Standard Investments hired Schroders’ Aymeric Forest to run its flagship fund and help steady the ship as well as take over Mr Stern’s responsibilities as head of the multi-asset team.
A spokesperson for the group insisted that despite this latest withdrawal, Gars was showing an “improvement in performance so far this year.”
The spokesperson said; “Under the leadership of Aymeric Forest the team is working well together and we have put in place new processes to help strengthen the idea generation that is central to the portfolio.’
The Hancock fund will now be subadvised by Nordic asset manager Nordea Investment Management, with its portfolio managers Asbjørn Trolle Hansen, Claus Vorm and Kurt Kongsted assigned to the fund.