Veteran Nikko Asset Management NZ senior portfolio manager, James Lindsay, has left the business after more than two decades.
George Carter, Nikko NZ chief, said the business would reallocate resources across its Australasian equities team following Lindsay’s departure.
Carter said the local shares team, headed by Stuart Williams, would eventually increase from the current four (including Lindsay) to five with the addition of two new analyst roles in the near future.
“The extra analysts will take some of the research weight off the portfolio managers,” he said.
Nikko would begin recruiting for experienced analysts to fill the new positions soon, Carter said.
Along with Williams, the Nikko Australasian shares team includes portfolio managers Michael Sherrock and Michael De Cesare.
Williams has taken over a portfolio manager of the Nikko Concentrated Equities Fund.
“Stuart and James have worked alongside one-another for over five years. A thorough handover from James to Stuart has taken place to ensure continuity, and the underlying strategy of the fund will not change,” Carter said.
“James has served our clients with commitment for over 20 years. It has been a privilege for us all to work alongside him, and I understand that after over two decades, he is ready for new challenges. We wish him the best.”
Lindsay will end his 21-year association with the Auckland-headquartered fund manager at the end of the year.
He joined Royal & SunAlliance Asset Management NZ as an equity analyst in 1998, a year before the business purchased Tyndall Australia (including its NZ assets) for about A$740 million.
After a series of corporate machinations and rebrands at Royal & SunAlliance, the Tokyo-based Nikko bought Tyndall Investments (covering Australia and NZ) in 2010 for almost A$130 million.
Lindsay remained ensconced within the NZ shares team through all the ownership changes, rising at one point to co-head of equities – a role he shared with Ricky Ward for a time. While Ward ultimately took sole charge of equities under Nikko, he left in 2014 to join BNZ subsidiary JB Were as a NZ shares portfolio manager. Williams shifted from ANZ Investments in the same year to replace Ward.
It hasn’t been a great 12 months performance-wise for the Nikko local equities strategies with both the core NZ equities and concentrated funds down the bottom of the latest Melville Jessup Weaver (MJW) investment survey.
The Nikko concentrated fund, for instance, was up just 2 per cent for the 12 months to September 30 against 5.8 per cent for the median in the, admittedly small, bunch of managers in that MJW category and 18 per cent for the broader NZ shares index.
Over longer periods, however, both the Nikko funds stand up well in the MJW survey.
Ben Trollip, MJW principal, said: “It has been a challenging environment for concentrated and absolute return type strategies. Any exposure to cash in the strongly performing New Zealand equity market would have been a significant drag on returns recently. By contrast, fully invested, index-aware strategies have generally done a lot better.”
Nikko has just over $1 billion in its NZ equities portfolio, Carter said, not far off its estimated capacity of between $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion.
“We’re very mindful of capacity in NZ shares and have taken a conservative approach to it – more so than some of our competitors,” he said. “We’re not far away from our soft-close limits.”
In total, Nikko NZ has close to $6.5 billion across local and offshore fixed income, global equities and alternative assets.