Legg Mason walks the talk

Legg Mason may be a $922 billion global investment firm but it is its ability to channel the knowledge of its global investment experts and apply it to the local market that has seen it thrive and succeed in Australia.

Legg Mason, which returned as a winner this year after taking home the top prize in 2015 at Money Management/Lonsec’s Fund Manager of the Year awards, is a holding company with nine independent investment businesses that operate autonomously with different management structures and brands.

These include Western Asset, Martin Currie, Brandywine, QS Investors and most recently, private equity and debt real estate investment manager, Clarion Partners.

This diversity has led to Legg Mason Asset Management Australia qualifying as a finalist in several categories at this year’s awards.

According to Legg Mason head of Australia and managing director, Andy Sowerby, the firm managed to deliver positive returns despite volatile markets and geopolitical uncertainties. The firm witnessed double digital growth in most of its investment strategies and local fund structures in the last 12 months.

“Underlying those headline numbers, there’s clearly been significant rotation evident and that type of environment will test any investment team and investment process,” Sowerby said.
“We’re just very pleased that what we have done has stood up to the challenges and continue to deliver attractive returns for our clients.”

The firm, which has $46 billion in funds under management in Australia and is headquartered in Melbourne, opened a Sydney office in March as part of its strategy to expand its footprint in Australia.

Lazard, which won the award in 2014, has returned as a finalist this year, and it attributed its nomination to its robust Australian equity team, which witnessed a strong year. The Select Australian Equity Fund, which is the most concentrated, best ideas approach, performed particularly well.

Lazard Asset Management chief executive, Asia Pacific, Rob Prugue, said: “We were also very pleased with the performance of our Emerging Markets Debt Total Return Fund as it delivered strong absolute returns”.

“Global listed infrastructure continues to deliver on its objectives for clients, as it has for more than a decade now. Global Equity Franchise has been running for more than three years now and is looking very interesting from a risk/return point of view.”

Rounding out the list of finalists for the top award is Antipodes Partners, which attributed its success to its investment teams and process.

The firm’s deputy portfolio manager, Andrew Baud said individual and team incentives were tied to the client outcomes, meaning everyone’s interests were aligned.

“We’ve implemented a rigorous investment process that focuses not only on identifying opportunities to generate alpha through both our qualitative and quantitative experience and quantitative force multipliers but equally, constructing risk-aware portfolios with a capital preservation outcome,” Baud said.

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