Accolade for Harbour Asset Management

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Last updated 19:00 26/02/2014

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Harbour Asset Management has been named Morningstar's 2014 New Zealand fund manager of the year, with Brian Gaynor's Milford Asset Management carrying off the KiwiSaver manager of the year award.

In a ceremony held in Auckland's harbour-side Maritime Museum, the funds research group handed the fund manager of the year award to Wellington-based Harbour.

Morningstar praised it for its strong performance and the way it communicated with its investors.

Harbour, which offers Australasian shares funds and New Zealand fixed-interest funds to retail investors, had experienced "another banner year" and "the equities and fixed income teams produced first-rate performances", Morningstar said.

Harbour also won the awards for best New Zealand fixed-interest manager, and best domestic equities manager, with Morningstar describing its fixed-income team as "the firm's quiet achiever".

The award for best international equities manager went to ANZ Investments, which had won the award for the last few years under its former moniker, Onepath, and "continues to show that in the New Zealand market, few can match its global equities capability", Morningstar said.

The KiwiSaver award for Milford, which was both Morningstar's fund manager of the year and KiwiSaver manager of the year in 2013, adds to the 21 other awards it has been given in the past five years, all of which are listed on its website.

The funds research group praised Milford for its transparency, as well as its "capable, seasoned investment personnel and creditable performance".

"Morningstar believes that Milford deserves greater attention as one of the pre-eminent KiwiSaver providers," Morningstar's Australasian co-head of research, Chris Douglas, said, adding that Milford had set new standards for engagement with investors.

In judging the awards, Morningstar's analysts consider both calendar-year risk-adjusted returns as well as longer term performance. They then analyse the strengths and weaknesses of managers and their processes.

They then decide which managers are worthy winners, and if there is not a unanimous decision among analysts, a vote is taken.

Peter Neilson, chief executive of the Financial Services Council - the industry body for fund managers and insurers -said the award was a rare opportunity to reflect on the nobility of fund management.

"Within the industry we often take for granted the good we do for the wider community. Helping New Zealanders save and invest well to realise their dreams is a noble cause."

He also used the event to highlight the council's drive to step up contributions into KiwiSaver, have default KiwiSavers placed in balanced or growth rather than conservative portfolios, and reduce tax on KiwiSaver funds.

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The FSC also wants to see "appropriately-priced" capital guarantees for KiwiSaver funds. 

"We have polling that we will release in the coming months that shows that most KiwiSavers do not know the risk type of their KiwiSaver fund and that with appropriately priced capital guarantees most people in conservative funds would be prepared to move to balanced or growth funds that earn higher returns," Neilson said.

"Most New Zealanders understand that paying less than 0.5% per year for guarantees to earn 2% or more per year on average is a very good deal."

- Fairfax Media

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