Legg Mason has gone back to back in being named the 2018 Money Management/Lonsec Fund Manger of the Year, confirming the investment strength of the Melbourne-based business.
It represented Legg Mason’s third win of the top award in the past four years, with the firm having taken the laurels in 2015 and 2017 but with Macquarie Investment Management grabbing the prize in 2016.
Although this year’s contest presented the Lonsec analysts with a tough choice to make due to an increasingly competitive landscape among product providers, and given that many recent winners have been aggregators of underlying fund managers, Legg Mason’s “stable of quality fund managers” yet again managed to deliver a strong performance across a number of categories and “edged out their rivals”.
Legg Mason head of Australia, Andy Sowerby, has confirmed that the strength of his business should be attributed to the firm’s investments specialists, which could demonstrate their experience in their respective fields.
Legg Mason funds took out three categories - Global Emerging Market Equities, Australian Fixed Income and Global Fixed Income, with Sowerby noting that its investment specialists had been highly recommended by independent research houses for their performance-delivering ability and the quality of their respective teams.
“Our business is designed to be an active management business where we have nine independent affiliates who focus on being the very best they can be in their own individual asset class in which they choose to specialise,” Sowerby said.
These significant investment specialists, operating under Legg Mason’s umbrella, include Western Asset, Martin Currie, Brandywine Global and QS Investors.
“We are focused on bringing to the market the best active management capability that we can across multiple asset classes.”
Sowerby stressed that the current business model was based on a combination of multiple businesses and specialisations, where Legg Mason only helped distribute the “performance excellence” to the client base, which would enable the company to “deliver the best performance at the best price in the best vehicles”.
Legg Mason is also continuously expanding its business and developing product offerings, which included the recent launch of active exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in partnership with ETF provider BetaShares, where funds would be managed by Legg Mason’s affiliate Martin Currie and would be based on its existing strategy.
“If we do our job well, which is deliver the best performance at the best price and use the best vehicles and do it consistently well, we’ll be recognised over time as being one of the leading fund manager groups,” Sowerby added.
Upon receipt of the top gong, Sowerby said all that Legg Mason’s investment specialists care about is “getting the best performance for their investors”.
“We’ve won three times out of the last four. Consistency matters, dependability matters - we have a strong process, strong teams, and we’re really proud of the outcomes we make, and we hope we continue to be successful,” he said.
Legg Mason was followed this year by BlackRock Investment Management Australia which joined it as a finalist for the top award, confirming its commitment as a responsible fiduciary for its clients.
The firm’s head of Australia, Dominik Rohe said that Blackrock, which currently manages over $100 billion in assets and services $20 billion in assets via its platform, owes its success to its clients’ trust that helped build long-lasting relationships.
“BlackRock is committed to being a responsible fiduciary for our clients. It’s our client’s trust in BlackRock and our partnerships with them that are the foundation of continued success,” he said.
“The most important driver of BlackRock’s success has been our culture and unwavering commitment to our principles: our fiduciary commitment to our clients, our commitment to performance and innovation, and our One BlackRock approach to everything we do.
“Our capacity to deliver this performance — to embrace technological change, consistently improve our organisation, and deepen our relationships with our clients — is rooted in our deep commitment to our principles as a firm.”
Melbourne-based Bennelong Funds Management, which says it is proud of identifying and partnering with quality and boutique asset managers who invest across different asset classes including Australian equities, market neutral and absolute return funds, global equities as well as listed global infrastructure and global real estate, rounded the list of the finalists.