James de Uphaugh, fund manager of Edinburgh Investment Trust (LSE:EDIN), has announced that he will be retiring from the industry early next year, in February 2024.
The deputy fund manager of the UK equity income trust, Chris Field, will also be retiring. Field will hang up his boots next month.
The duo co-founded Majedie, which was acquired by Liontrust 18 months ago. The two fund managers have been at the helm of Edinburgh since March 2020 after the board sacked Invesco. At the time Mark Barnett, when he worked at Invesco, was manager of the trust. Prior to that, Neil Woodford was the fund manager.
When Majedie took over the management it restructured the portfolio to have a “blend of investment styles”. Under Invesco, Edinburgh had a value focus.
Replacing the two veteran fund managers is Imran Sattar. He has worked with de Uphaugh and Field since 2018, managing UK equity portfolios alongside them.
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The company's chair, Elisabeth Stheeman, said: “James oversaw the successful transition of the company's management to the Global Fundamental Team and has delivered impressive investment performance in volatile market conditions.
“Over this period, from 31 March 2020 to 28 September 2023, the net asset value per share (cum income, debt at fair value) has risen by 73.2% and the share price total return has risen by 80.2%, against 49.2% for the comparator index (the FTSE All-Share).
“Imran has a strong investment pedigree, deep knowledge of the UK equity market, has long experience of managing large investment portfolios, and has worked alongside James and Chris for many years. He and his colleagues are well placed to build on the strong foundations put in place since 2020 and we look forward to working with him.”
The retirements follow a flurry of veteran fund managers who have announced plans to call it a day. Over the past couple of months, Bruce Stout of Murray International (LSE:MYI) and John Bennett, who oversees several European funds for Janus Henderson, have said they plan to retire from running money. They will retire next summer, in June and August respectively.
Their announcements came after news from UK equity fund manager Richard Buxton, who said in June that he would be retiring. In this instance, the handover process is shorter, with Buxton stepping down at the end of this summer.
Over the past couple of years, high-profile retirements include Walter Price of Allianz Technology Trust (LSE:ATT), abrdn’s Harry Nimmo and James Anderson, longstanding fund manager of Scottish Mortgage (LSE:SMT).
- Murray International’s Bruce Stout to retire in June 2024
- Richard Buxton to retire after 40-year career
History shows that a change in a fund or trust’s lead manager can have a big impact, and that it can be for better or for worse, so investors should always take note.
In terms of fund manager retirements, there are two main things to consider: is the new fund manager going to stick to the current process, and has the handover process been smooth?
In terms of the handover process, consider how long succession planning has been in place.
The main difference between a retirement and a fund manager exit is that the fund firm will generally have more time to prepare for a retirement.
Commenting on the news today of the two retirements at Edinburgh, investment trust analyst Numis said the investment process is expected to remain the same, but pointed out that new manager Sattar “has a much lower profile than James and we expect investors will be keen to hear from him about how he manages money”.
Numis also said that another manager change for Edinburgh “may not be welcomed by some investors”.
The broker said: “The further change in manager a few years after appointment is further disruption that may not be welcomed by some investors and is unlikely to help the discount narrow, which at circa 9%, is among the widest in the UK equity income peer group.”
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