Architas gives Woodford the axe

Architas has pulled Neil Woodford’s equity income fund from its multi-asset and multi-manager range, becoming the third fund group to ditch the mega manager in a matter of months.

Fresh pain for Woodford picks

The asset manager confirmed Wednesday that it has fully divested Woodford’s £8.3bn flagship vehicle from its £920m multi-asset fund range and the Architas MM UK equity fund, amid growing noise over the star manager’s short-term track record.

In total, the firm had more than £25m invested in the star manager’s vehicle via its six multi-asset funds and a further £9m invested in its £136m UK equity multi-manager fund.

Architas is the latest fund group and the second this month to give Woodford’s equity income fund the boot, after Jupiter Merlin announced it would be culling £300m from its funds in October.

Currently, the star manager’s fund is the worst performer of the 85-odd funds in the Investment Association’s UK Equity Income sector year-to-date, the only one of its peers to deliver negative total returns of -1.2%. On a shorter-term, six-month view, his fund has generated returns of -8.8% versus the sector’s -0.5%.

However, Architas said the decision to remove the fund was not solely motivated by short-term performance issues but “due to a tactical reduction of UK equities”.

“Woodford has clearly had a tough period and faced some stock specific headwinds,” a spokesperson for the firm said. “But short-term performance issues are not a reason on its own for us to remove a fund from portfolios and overall we still like and rate both the manager and the fund.”

Another factor behind its call was a choice to focus on more managers “that have more flexibility” to navigate a “choppy environment where those companies that are perceived as weak, failing to deliver or transition are being marked down heavily by the market”.

“We are therefore looking for active managers that have more flexibility to both take advantage of opportunities and also limit their losses.”

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