In a departure from recent practice just two firms are in the frame for the INFINZ equities fund manager of the year to be awarded this Thursday.
However, Jim McElwain, INFINZ executive director, said while the fund awards have traditionally featured three finalists, the number wasn’t set in stone.
“The fund awards are based on absolute criteria set by our judging panel,” McElwain said. “Having two finalists isn’t unprecedented – on a few rare occasions we’ve even had four finalists. And in some categories previously we’ve had no finalists – for example, last year there was no finalists in the merger and acquisitions category.”
He said this year’s NZ equity fund finalists – Nikko Asset Management and Devon Funds Management – were selected via the long-established two-step process. For the INFINZ awards NZ-based fund managers are first sifted through a quantitative performance screen based on three-year “risk-adjusted performance” numbers as analysed by Melville Jessup Weaver (MJW).
Those managers who survive the performance cull – understood to usually feature at least four firms – must then prepare a qualitative pitch to an expert panel covering factors such as investment staff skills and stability, alignment with investors, fees and regulatory compliance.
The 2017 equities judging panel includes: former NZ Superannuation Fund chair, David May; James Ogden, ex-chief of Macquarie NZ; and, recently-retired MJW principal, Mark Weaver.
Ben Trollip, MJW principal, said the decision to limit the equity fund finalists to two reflected the narrow gap between the pair of managers.
“The judges felt that both finalists were very strong but the gap between the other contenders was larger,” Trollip said. “With just two finalists there will be more kudos for coming second.”
Established in 2003, the INFINZ equity fund manager of the year has included, at one time or another, most of the marquee brands on the podium with Milford Asset Management holding the record for repeat wins. Milford’s five-year reign at INFINZ (beginning at the 2010 awards) was ended by Devon in 2015 with Salt Funds Management taking out last year’s gong.
The INFINZ bond manager of the year, which follows a similar selection process to the equities award, will be decided among AMP Capital, ANZ Investments and Harbour Asset Management.