All but five of the 150-plus funds in the Aon NZ monthly survey universe were back in black during April following an extraordinary market bounce.
In a spring tide that lifted most boats, April monthly returns ranged from -3 per cent for the Nikko Options strategy to 14.6 per cent for the Mercer Small Companies fund.
The Mercer Small Companies result reflected the abrupt turnaround in market sentiment during April as the same fund was mired down the bottom of the Aon global shares table in the March rankings: it remains the worst-performer among the group for the three months to April 30.
But in a month where every asset class clawed back some ground lost in March the NZ share market index was the stand-out performer, packing on some 7.5 per cent in the 30-day period.
“Returns from the domestic equity managers were positive during April, benefiting from the positive market sentiment, with returns ranging from 6.5% from Devon’s Sustainability fund to 13.1 per cent from the Harbour Australasian Equity Focus fund…,” the Aon report says.
Excluding the local share market April benchmark returns spanned 0.1 per cent for NZ cash to 6.4 per cent for unhedged global equities.
The median manager outperformed respective indices for the month across all asset classes (before fees and tax) bar local fixed income and global property.
Balanced funds also returned to positive territory in April in a return band ranging from 3 per cent to 6.2 per cent: the median manager in this cohort of seven providers was up 5.2 per cent for the month compared to a 9 per cent loss in March.
“Milford generated the highest return over the last 12 months with a return of 4.4%, remaining heavily in cash at the end of April,” the Aon survey says. “AMP was the lowest performer with a return of -1.0% over the same period.”
Yet despite the April surge, all equity and property benchmarks remain negative for the three-month period and also over 12 months for the latter asset class. (The global property index is the only one in the red over the three years to April 30, however.)
Aside from local fixed income, almost all funds in the Aon survey are sub-zero for the three-month stretch with the Nikko Option fund turning in the lowest figure of -30.4 per cent. Among the non-fixed interest asset classes, the AMP Capital Global Companies topped the three-month performance charts with a 3.5 per cent return.
About a third of all funds in the Aon survey reported negative returns for the 12 months ending April 30 with the red ink spilling into the three-year period for a handful of products. Just four funds were still under water for the five-year term, according to Aon.
Last week the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) also released data showing the COVID-19 upheaval had seen just over half of all KiwiSaver funds spilling red ink during the 12 months ending March 31.
“Looking at the one year data, funds in the higher risk ‘growth’ and ‘aggressive’ categories were hit hardest by the COVID-19 market falls: 92 of these funds went into negative territory, while 18 funds in this risk profile were positive for the year to March 2020,” the FMA report says.
“In the ‘balanced’ fund category, 39 funds were negative for one year returns, while 16 funds were positive. As expected, the conservative and defensive funds were mostly positive, however 12 funds in these categories were negative over the one year period.109 funds had positive returns after fees for the year to March. Of these, 25 funds lost 50% or more of their gross return to fees.”
Almost all (99 per cent) KiwiSaver funds turned in positive performance over the five-year period to the end of March, the FMA says.