New categories in evolving world of industry awards

Tom King, Bianca Ogden and Mike Taylor announces this year's Fund Manager of the Year
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The annual Money Management Awards were a bit different this year, as all awards have been. They were virtual, like the others, and they weren’t run, in Money Management’s case in conjunction with the ‘financial planner of the year’ and ‘BDM of the year’ awards as previously – those awards being put on hold until next year – but there were also significant other differences below the surface which will likely remain post COVID.

The big difference this year, according to Mike Taylor, the long-standing editor of Money Management and its sister publication Super Review, has to do with the way the award winners were chosen. Like other awards events run by publishing houses, Money Management, would traditionally choose one major research firm to provide the detailed information required for informed decisions. In Money Management’s case, this dated back to involvement with the old ASSIRT, now subsumed within Westpac via its purchase of St George Bank, which had bought Sealcorp in 1998 and in turn was acquired by Westpac 10 years later.

David Koch, the founder of Money Management, with the backing of Fairfax, in 1987, was the first industry publisher to produce an awards event. He set a high bar in the heady days of healthy marketing budgets, with a black-tie gala dinner for up to 1,000 attendees. Taylor said that this year, held on Thursday, July 30, was the first where the dress code was so relaxed. In the privacy of one’s own home, of course, heaven knows what the general attire proved to be.

More importantly for the winners, an array of research firms and other experts were assembled to provide their views on the award candidates. For only one award, a redefined ‘Responsible Manager of the Year’ award, was a research firm – Lonsec – the sole advisor. The winner was the Sydney-based global staff-owned firm Nanuk New World Fund.

Taylor said: “We went as close to the whole of market as we could manage – Lonsec, SQM and Mercer, and IOOF’s research team provided input, but not on their own funds, obviously. We tried to get Zenith too but David (David Wright, the chief executive) was in the middle of the acquisition stuff… Our analysts here at FE fundinfo provided the quant and the research houses provided the qual and we brought it all altogether.” Zenith was in the middle of negotiations, leading to a legal settlement over its purchase of the institutional research house Chant West at the time judging was required. FE fundinfo, an international investment data analytics firm, formerly known as Financial Express, is the owner of Money Management and Super Review. “A criticism which has always been levelled at awards events is that they are too commercial,” Taylor said. “So, if you take out the single research house involvement, it’s no longer a ‘pay-to-play’ model.”

The other interesting award this year was for ‘Best-Performing Fund with a Woman in a Leadership Role’, won by Bianca Ogden, Platinum Asset Management’s head of its $260 million health industry investment fund. This award grew out of Money Management’s involvement with the ‘Women in Financial Services Awards’, which couldn’t be held this year because they require social engagement to carry them off financially. Taylor said, also, that FE fundinfo in the UK, which holds “alpha managers” awards, discovered that while women were under-represented in the funds management industry they tended to “show up” in terms of performance. “This was the first time we’ve done this award in Australia,” he said.

Dr Ogden is a former academic – a virologist – who started her career with Johnson & Johnson as a scientist working in an area looking at the discovery of drugs to fight cancer. Johnson & Johnson is one of the world’s leaders in commercialising discoveries in medical science, including pharmaceuticals and devices. It is one of the companies which has been working on a vaccine for COVID since early this year. Dr Ogden also has a Masters in Biology. She joined Platinum in 2003.

With Nanuk, the firm has made a name for its investments across a range of sustainable technologies through which it aims to provide both good returns and portfolio diversification. Last year was a pivotal year for the firm during which increasing recognition of the longer-term prospects for sustainable investments was accompanied by strong investment performance

Tom King, Nanuk’s CIO, said: “The firm was set up in 2009 to develop world-leading expertise in the investment opportunities and risks associated with environmental sustainability and resource-use efficiency. Our focus is global, and we invest in listed companies involved in areas such as clean energy, energy efficiency, industrial efficiency, waste management, pollution control, food and agriculture, advanced and sustainable materials, water and healthcare technology. We believe the long-term prospects for these sectors are good and they are excellent areas for active investment…”

Nanuk actually came about in part because of the founders’ common connection with the sea. Tom King is an Olympic gold medalist for Australia in sailing. Most of the other partners, including chair and co-founder Paul Chadwick, are either sailors or surfers, or both. Dan Powell, an experienced marketer who is also a former senior executive at Sealcorp and Assirt, is Nanuk’s head of distribution.

For Mike Taylor and all those involved, the awards event was deemed a success. The total “views” of proceedings by the audience of mainly advisors and managers, peaked at more than 600 individuals. In recent years, the average number of attendees at the physical awards has been about 400. Importantly, the organisers held more than 90 per cent of the audience throughout the proceedings. The full list of Money Management Award winners for 2020 is:

  • Fund Manager of the Year: Bennelong Funds Management
  • Best-performing Fund with a Woman in a Leadership Role: Bianca Ogden, Platinum Asset Management
  • Australian Large Cap Equities: Greencape High Conviction
  • Australian Small/Mid Cap Equities: Fairview Equity Partners Emerging Companies
  • Global equities: Zurich Investments Concentrated Global Growth
  • Global Emerging Market Equities: Fidelity Global Emerging Markets
  • Long/Short Equities: WaveStone Dynamic Australian Equity
  • Australian Property Securities: AMP Capital Listed Property Trusts (A)
  • Global Property Securities: Quay Global Real Estate (C)
  • Infrastructure Securities: Lazard Global Listed Infrastructure
  • Australian Fixed Income: Legg Mason Western Asset Australian Bond (A)
  • Global Fixed Income: PIMCO Global Bond Fund
  • Emerging Manager: Insync Global Quality Equity
  • Separately Managed Accounts – Australian Equities: DNR Capital Australian Equities High Conviction Portfolio, and
  • Responsible Investments: Nanuk New World Fund.

– G.B.

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