Milford Asset Management marked the end of an era today as co-founder, Brian Gaynor, relinquished his remaining executive duties.
In a client update issued this afternoon, Milford revealed Gaynor has stepped down as head of investments – a position he assumed in 2017 after handing over day-to-day portfolio management responsibilities.
However, Gaynor would stay on the Milford board, the note says, and advise on the manager’s private equity strategies.
At the same time, Milford confirmed Mark Ryland as chief executive officer. Ryland has been acting CEO since late in December when incumbent, Troy Swann, unexpectedly resigned just two years into the role.
Before his appointment as acting CEO position, Ryland served four years as Milford in senior compliance and operations positions.
“Mark’s appointment reinforces Milford’s focus on robust succession planning and the depth of our talent pool across the business,” Gaynor said in the note.
Founded in 2003, Milford gained a following among direct high net worth investors. The business retooled following the launch of the portfolio investment entity (PIE) and KiwiSaver regimes in 2007 with a series of unit trusts, including the flagship Active Growth Fund, managed by Gaynor.
Milford funds have been consistent top-performers over many time periods since launch. Initially specialising in Australasian equities, the Auckland-headquartered firm subsequently branched out into other asset classes including fixed income and global equities.
The Milford KiwiSaver scheme, launched in 2010, now boasts about $1.4 billion under management and a swag of industry awards (including its fifth Morningstar KiwiSaver manager of the year prize secured last week).
Despite losing a number of wholesale clients (notably the NZ Superannuation Fund) after becoming embroiled in a market manipulation scandal involving then portfolio manager, Mark Warminger, in 2015, Milford has barely skipped a beat since.
Post 2015, the group has almost doubled funds under management to $6.3 billion. With its NZ book filling up fast, Milford is now looking for further growth in the Australian market, where it has had an office for many years.
Late in 2017 the business launched an Australian-domiciled fund – modeled on the Active Growth template – and recently hired a distribution manager across the Tasman.
Wayne Gentle, Milford chief investments officer, is also based in Sydney. Gentle remains in sole charge of investment strategy following the departure of Gaynor, who won’t be replaced.
After a staged retreat over the last few years, Gaynor’s final exit from hands-on investment roles in Milford this week should not take too many in the industry by surprise.
He leaves behind a more than 80-strong Milford staff including an investment team of 24 spread across Australia and NZ.