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Robin Parbrook, head of Asian ex Japan equities at Schroders, lead manager of Schroder ISF Asian Opportunities, which has a Morningstar Analyst Rating of Gold, and comanager of the Gold-rated Schroder ISF Asian Total Return, has announced that he will be leaving Hong Kong and returning to the UK for family reasons before the end of the year. He will be working out of Schroders’ London office and is expected to visit Asia every quarter.
This move has resulted in a number of notable changes. Parbrook has already begun transitioning the management of the Schroder ISF Asian Opportunities strategy to Toby Hudson, and Hudson will officially become its lead manager on 1 January 2018. Hong Kong-based Hudson comes with strong credentials, having dedicated his 25-year investment career to Schroders. He has demonstrated his investment acumen on the Silver-rated Schroder Asian Growth and the Silver-rated Schroder ISF Hong Kong Equity. He has worked closely with Parbrook on the core Asian strategy for over a decade, and we believe him to be an apt replacement.
Parbrook will take on the role of co-head of Asian equity alternative investments and primarily focus on alternative and absolute return products. He will continue to manage Schroder ISF Asian Total Return with comanager King Fuei Lee.
From a team management perspective, Parbrook will be handing over his duties and report to London-based Alex McDougall effective 1 July 2017. McDougall will assume the role of head of Asian ex Japan equities and equity insights and will focus on managing the team and the business, as well as overseeing the investment process and the product set. He will not have any portfolio management responsibilities. McDougall joined Schroders in 2016 from BlackRock and has been a research analyst, portfolio manager, and regional equities head in his career.
We do not foresee any changes to the Morningstar Analyst Rating of Gold on Schroder ISF Asian Total Return given that Parbrook retains his portfolio management responsibilities there. We will be speaking with Hudson in the coming weeks to get a better idea on what sort of changes he plans to bring to Schroder ISF Asian Opportunities, but we also do not see any immediate impact on the Gold-rated Schroder ISF Asian Opportunities during this transition period.
Schroder ISF Asian Total Return is an exceptional Asia Pacific ex Japan equity offering, with unique downside resilience. Veteran managers Robin Parbrook and King Fuei Lee have comanaged Schroder ISF Asian Total Return since its inception on Nov. 16, 2007. The duo has 27 and 18 years of investment experience, respectively, both exclusively with Schroders. They have worked together for 16 years and have great synergy, and we hold them both in high regard. Parbrook has moved back to London and continues to run the fund. He has extensive experience on the team and has run the fund from the U.K. before without compromising its performance, we therefore have no concerns about his relocation. The comanagers are supported by 36 analysts with 16 years of investment experience and eight years with the firm on average. The historically stable Asian team has seen some turnover. While this is not ideal, we believe the existing team is capable and can fill the gaps as it searches for replacements. The fund has an absolute return focus and is not constrained by any benchmarks (though it uses the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex Japan Index for performance comparison purposes). The comanagers pick stocks through a rigorous, quality-growth focused investment process. Unlike the typical Asia Pacific ex Japan equity peer, the comanagers also mitigate market risks through hedging. The fund continues to gather assets and stood at $4 billion as of Sept. 30, 2017, despite being closed to new subscriptions. As such, the team has become more selective with existing clients. While the fund maintains a reasonable liquidity profile, this is a growing concern of ours. The comanagers have built a track record that few can match. Between Dec. 1, 2007, and Oct. 31, 2017, the fund gained a robust 11.68% per year, outpacing the index by 851 basis points, and ranking in the first percentile among peers. True to its absolute return label, the fund has unparalleled downside resilience, as seen from its downside capture ratio of 51.61% compared with the average peer’s 96.42% over the managers’ tenure. One area that the fund can improve on is its expensive fees. Nonetheless, we believe the fund possesses a number of best-of-breed traits that are not to be missed. We therefore maintain its Morningstar Analyst Rating of Gold.