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JO Hambro UK Opportunities

Following John Wood’s announcement that he is to retire as lead manager in September this year, Michael Ulrich and Rachel Reutter – co-managers on the product – visted us recently to provide more detail on the future direction of the strategy.

Consistent with the group’s initial message, the managers reiterated that there will be no change in the underlying philosophy and process. Despite Ulrich and Reutter not having prior lead management experience in the UK All Companies sector, Ulrich was the lead manager on the F&C Mid Cap strategy for over six years while Reutter has been with the company for five years. Initially starting as an analyst, she was elevated to co-manager in 2015.

We recognise that John Wood’s extensive experience of successfully managing UK equities and leading this strategy since launch in 2005 was instrumental in shaping our conviction. Despite taking a step back from company meetings over the last few years, Wood’s key strengths are his in-depth knowledge of prior business cycles and their respective outcomes, shaping the broader macro assessment and ultimately providing guidance and a seal of approval for all companies entering and leaving the fund.

However, we believe that Ulrich and Reutter have played an integral part in managing the fund, being largely responsible for bottom-up stock picking within a broader framework defined by Wood. Both Reutter and Ulrich were taught by John Wood to follow a distinct investment approach – the strategy advocates an absolute rather than relative approach to valuation and has historically held relatively high cash balances based on Wood’s pessimistic outlook over the last few years.

Our assessment suggests that the co-managers are sufficiently experienced to take the strategy forward following Wood’s departure, and despite losing his stewardship, should be able to follow the fund’s distinct process.

The fund has been awarded a five-star rating and will feature in Our Top-rated Funds.

The value of investments, and the income derived from them, can go down as well as up and you can get back less than you originally invested.

This does not constitute personal advice. If you are in doubt as to the suitability of an investment please contact one of our advisers. Past performance is not a guide to future performance.

Different funds carry varying levels of risk depending on the geographical region and industry sector in which they invest. You should make yourself aware of these specific risks prior to investing.