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Square Mile removes Matthews Asia and Franklin fund ratings

Analysts at Square Mile Investment Consulting and Research conducted 59 interviews with investment professionals from 34 asset management groups throughout September, leading to three new ratings being awarded, one rating suspended, one downgraded and two removed.

The Matthews Asia Dividend fund saw its rating removed, which Square Mile said was due to the fund and its sector  – Asia including Japan – not attracting “significant investor interest in recent years”.

However, Square Mile added that it had retained the Matthews Asia ex Japan Dividend version of this strategy at an AA rating, stating that it “continues to enjoy demand from investors”.

The Franklin UK Equity Income fund also lost its A rating, after news that long-standing fund manager Colin Morton would retire at the end of the year.

Square Mile described the decision as “difficult” but said that while current co-lead manager Ben Russon was experienced, “the fund’s rating was centred on Mr Morton’s involvement”.

Square Mile added: “Moreover, given Mr Russon’s additional future responsibilities, both as a lead manager and co-head of the UK Equity team, they would like time to assess how these changes settle in over the coming months.

“Square Mile would like to take this opportunity to recognise Mr Morton’s contribution to the industry and wish him a long and happy retirement.”

New ratings

Three new funds were given Square Mile’s ratings, with the Guinness Sustainable Energy fund being awarded a Responsible A rating.

Square Mile highlighted the fund’s “tightly knit and dedicated team that have strong expertise of investing in the broader energy sector”, adding that the fund should appeal to investors who want to play to both long-term capital accumulation and global decarbonisation.

The Aviva Multi Asset Funds Core Range was awarded Positive Prospect ratings, which Square Mile said offered a differentiated proposition compared to many peers, combining a low-cost and globally orientated approach to ESG.

Additionally, Square Mile said that the funds “play to Aviva Investors’ core capabilities and elements of the business where it has significant resource and a strong heritage, namely multi-asset solutions and responsible investing”.

Finally, the BlueBay Impact Aligned Bond fund was awarded a Responsible Positive Prospect rating, due to the fund’s “strong fixed income team and a credible sustainability process”.

Square Mile added that it saw the fund as offering “distinct approach to achieving positive environmental and social outcomes by investing in global credit markets”.

Suspensions and downgrades

Meanwhile, the CT UK Equity Income fund saw its AA rating suspended on the news that lead manager Richard Colwell is to retire. Square Mile said that it will meet with Jeremy Smith, who is set to take over leadership of the fund in November, to discuss how the strategy will be managed in the future.

Finally, abrdn’s UK Smaller Companies fund was downgraded to an A rating on the news that lead manager Harry Nimmo is to retire.

Square Mile said that it still has confidence is Abby Glennie, who will become the fund’s lead manager from the end of the year and added that it “would like to take this opportunity to recognise Mr Nimmo’s contribution to the industry and wish him a long and happy retirement”.

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