He hasn’t actually retired yet. But it seemed a bit like he had – it was almost a eulogy – at the Morningstar annual fund manager Awards last Friday night at Sydney’s Establishment. Kerr Neilson scooped the pool. As well he should.
He won the Fund Manager of the Year Award, plus the International Fund Manager of the Year Award. He also attended the function and socialised, for once. Imagine that: Kerr Neilson socialising with people.
As was announced recently, Kerr Neilson has stepped down as chief executive of Platinum Asset Management, the listed company he founded after leaving the old BT Funds Management. But he will continue to do his stock research, which is what he loves doing. And he does it really well, as Morningstar decided before Kerr announced his move. We had to queue up to speak with him on Friday night. Naturally shy, he was almost effusive last Friday night. Almost.
The Awards night, attended by about 200 industry folk, is the most prestigious Awards night for the wholesale part of the industry. Inexplicably, it’s held at 5.30 pm on a Friday. As you’d expect, this poor correspondent was the only journalist in attendance. Everyone else was doing something else. But it was a good night if you made it.
So, here are the winners: Platinum is the funds manager of the year and the international fund manager of the year. Go Kerr. And the other winners were: Western Asset, Lazard, Capital Group, Fidelity and Australian Super.
In a way, Australian Super, the country’s largest super fund, was the biggest winner, for the “Multi-Sector” category. A few years ago, one would not have thought that a big not-for-profit super fund would be in contention for a wholesale funds management award by a ratings agency like Morningstar.
Stephen Fallet, the Aussie Super manager for investment communications, said he felt like a dual winner. For instance, Western Asset was one of Aussie Super’s managers. “Sixty per cent of our assets are still managed externally,” he said. “We try to deliver the best results. And I think we do that.”
Speaking separately, Kerr Neilson said he was looking forward to concentrating on researching stocks, which remains his main ambition. For the record: he also established Australia as a beachhead for international investing, from Sydney.
Clearly, he has made a lot of money for himself and his ex-wife Judith. Judith runs a fabulous Chinese art gallery in Chippendale, Sydney. BTW: If you are lucky, she may be there on the weekends, taking small groups around for personal tours.