UK - Phillips & Drew was the best performing asset manager in 2001, producing a -7.2% return in a year which saw the value of UK pension funds fall by 11.3%, according to HSBC Actuaries & Consultants.
HSBC's research found that JP Morgan Fleming was the second best performer of the year with a -7.8% return, whilst Zurich Scudder - now trading as Threadneedle - came in at third with a -8.3% return.
Over the past 12 months, the worst performing manager was Glasgow Investment Managers, with a -18% rate of return. Next was Royal London Asset Management, returning -17.2%, whilst beleaguered fund manager Schroder Investment Management posted a -16.1% return.
During the last quarter of 2001, all of the surveyed fund managers managed to post positive returns. The worst performers were Britannic, which posted a 5.7% return for the quarter, Dresdner returned 5.9%, whilst Scottish Widows had a 6.3% rate of return.
The best performers in the fourth quarter were Bank of Ireland, KBC and Merrill Lynch, who all posted a 9.8% return for the quarter. HSBC claimed Merrill Lynch's remarkable fourth quarter was due to its overweight position in equities.
The performance figures for 2001 are the worst recorded in the HSBC IMAGE survey's 10 year history. Over the last five years the average fund has returned 6.4% per annum, a miserable 0.2% more than cash.
Paul Audu, senior investment consultant at HSBC Actuaries & Consultants, said: Most pension funds have around 50% of their assets in UK shares and a further 25% in overseas shares, which also fared badly, which explains why it is not surprising that the returns have been so poor.
Over the past 12 months, the FTSE All-Share index has fallen 13.3%, and by 18.5% since the end of December 1999. Despite this, funds are optimistic about the performance of equity markets in 2002. At the end of September, funds held an average of just over 6% of their assets in cash. By the end of 2001, that figure had fallen to 3.8%, with all the money shifted into equities.
The HSBC survey provides performance statistics using capital growth and contribution payments on a monthly basis for 39 discretionary balanced pooled pension funds and five consensus funds.
By Geoffrey Ho
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