The Ninety One UK Alpha Fund has been booted from the Square Mile Academy of Funds following co-manager Simon Brazier’s decision to leave the firm at the end of May.
Anna Farmbrough will continue to run the strategy alongside newly-appointed co-manager Ben Needham.
Square Mile said: “While analysts acknowledge Ms Farmbrough’s continued association on the strategy, the fund’s A rating was predicated on Mr Brazier’s involvement as the architect of the approach. Therefore, the analysts believe that removing the fund’s rating to be the most appropriate action while they monitor how the strategy is managed by Ms Farmbrough and Mr Needham in future.”
The latest ratings update comes after Square Mile analysts conducted 54 interviews with investment professionals from 38 asset management groups over the course of February.
Blackrock Gold & General has been downgraded from an ‘AA’ rating to an ‘A’ due to continued underperformance against the FTSE Gold Mines Index, with Square Mile stating the new rating better reflects their conviction in the strategy’s ability to provide long-term returns in line with its benchmark.
Square Mile has also suspended Artemis Global Select due to the recent retirement of co-manager Alex Illingworth at the end of February. Portfolio manager Simon Edelsten is also due to retire at the end of the year.
Newly-appointed head of global equities Alex Stanic will manage the strategy moving forward, with the ex-JP Morgan managing director meeting with Square Mile analysts in the coming weeks before a further decision on its rating is taken.
Upgrades and inductions
The T Rowe Price Global Impact Credit fund has been inducted into Square Mile’s Academy of Funds for the first time, after it was awarded a ‘Responsible Positive Prospect’ rating.
Square Mile analysts praised the strategy’s considered thematic approach which sees it invest in credit issuers that provide solutions to social and economic challenges.
The fund was launched in 2021 and is led by Matt Lawton, who has been with T Rowe Price since 2011.
The research firm said: “Overall, the analysts believe this to be a promising strategy for investors who are seeking positive environmental and social outcomes from their global credit market exposure.”
January’s ratings update saw a quintet of fixed income funds receive upgraded ratings as the asset class continues to pull in investor cash. This time around, the Aegon Strategic Bond fund has been upgraded to an A from a ‘Positive Prospect’ due to the strategy’s ‘impressive return profile’ in a difficult year for bond strategies in 2022.
Federated Hermes Impact Opportunities Equity fund has been bumped up to a ‘Responsible A’ rating. Square Mile said: “Managers Ingrid Kukulijan and Martin Todd adopt a compelling investment approach, centred on investing in companies that provide solutions to societal and environmental problems.”
Schroders’ thematic fund, the global energy transition fund, has also been upgraded to a Responsible A.
The strategy, described by Square Mile as a promising long-term offering, invests in companies actively involved in the transition to cleaner energy.
See also: Square Mile: UK small caps to watch