Morningstar Announces Winners for 2023 Morningstar Awards
Lazard Asset Management named Fund Manager of the Year.
The Morningstar Awards, now in its 23rd year, recognise and celebrate the best of the Australian fund management profession who are selected by Morningstar’s Manager Research analysts.
“Our 2023 winners have proven themselves to be excellent stewards of investors’ capital,” said Annika Bradley, Morningstar Australasia’s Director, Manager Research Ratings.
“Australian investors are well served by a solid lineup of quality managers, but Lazard Asset Management wins our Overall Fund Manager of the Year award for a strong performance across their stable of funds and a preparedness to consistently put investors first.”
Award finalists and winners are determined by a combination of qualitative research by Morningstar's manager research analysts; risk-adjusted medium- to long-term performance track records; and performance in the 2022 calendar year.
The table below shows the category finalists, including finalists for the overall Fund Manager of the Year and Undiscovered Manager.
Overall Fund Manager of the Year
Lazard Asset Management
Fund Manager of the Year - Undiscovered Manager
Skerryvore Global Emerging Markets All Cap Equities
Fund Manager of the Year - Domestic Equities - Large Cap
Lazard Select Australian Equity
Fund Manager of the Year - Domestic Equities - Small Caps
DNR Capital Australian Emerging Companies
Fund Manager of the Year – Global Equities
GQG Partners Global Equity
Fund Manager of the Year - Fixed Interest
T. Rowe Price Dynamic Global Bond
Fund Manager of the Year – Real Assets
ATLAS Infrastructure Australian Feeder
Fund Manager of the Year – Sustainable Investing
AXA Investment Managers
Fund Manager of the Year – Multisector
Australian Retirement Trust
Overall Fund Manager of the Year.
Lazard Asset Management wins Overall Fund Manager of the Year, underpinned by a strong investing culture. The firm receives an “Above Average” Parent Pillar rating from Morningstar and it took out the Fund Manager of the Year – Domestic Equities Large Cap and was a worthy finalist in the Fund Manager of the Year – Real Asset category. The firm leads a handful of large, strong franchises, including its established and highly regarded emerging-markets capabilities, as well as other non-U.S.-focused equity offerings and a global listed infrastructure team. Smaller strategies fill out the firm’s lineup, but Lazard generally sticks with a limited investment repertoire of stock-and-bond investing in less-traversed universes. With a well-defined wheelhouse, Lazard has been successful on many fronts with an investment team that is well-tenured.
Fund Manager of the Year: Undiscovered Manager
Skerryvore Global Emerging Markets All-Cap Equity wins the award for Undiscovered Manager. Despite being a relatively new offering, this quality all-cap emerging markets strategy earns our highest conviction, driven by high regard for the investment team and process, which they applied in previous shops. We are confident this new boutique backed by Bennelong Funds Management and its international arm Bennbridge has the foundations for long-term investment success.
Fund Manager of the Year: Domestic Equities - Large Cap
Lazard Select Australian Equity's performance rebound typifies the steadfast application of a concentrated value approach, that will benefit investors with an equally long mindset and stomach for higher volatility. The strategy is in the capable hands of the three seasoned investors, Rob Osborn, Phillip Hofflin and Aaron Binsted. Despite the associated risks, this high-conviction value strategy will serve the patient investor well over a cycle.
Fund Manager of the Year: Domestic Equities - Small Cap
DNR Capital’s small cap strategy includes a leading duo and versatile, distinctive approach that makes this offering stand out. The strategy is comanaged by Sam Twidale and Mark Sedawie. Twidale, previously a portfolio manager at Schroders, has meaningful experience through a number of market cycles, while Sedawie has been with DNR since 2008, moving through the analyst ranks during that time. The duo’s co-investment and equity ownership in the boutique also represent significant skin in the game, providing meaningful alignment with investors.
Fund Manager of the Year: Fixed Interest
The T. Rowe Price Dynamic Global Bond A fine choice for portfolio diversification. The strategy has navigated volatility well with dynamic portfolio positioning and duration management. A solid and seasoned team feeds timely and credible insights that allows for dynamic portfolio positioning when deemed appropriate, particularly when sentiment around interest rates and inflationary expectations shifts materially.
Fund Manager of the Year: Global Equities
GQG Partners Global Equity has some caveats, but its logical approach and its manager’s ability to successfully navigate the territory earns our strong conviction. Lead portfolio manager Rajiv Jain describes his approach as "quality-growth," seeking companies with a strong market position, a record of prudent capital allocation, and a history of weathering tough economic conditions. Jain isn’t afraid of making aggressive portfolio changes if the fundamentals change, so investors should be prepared to see very high turnover at times. This approach has allowed the strategy to weather tough times in the market better than the indexes and most peers. The fee is very competitive at 0.75% per year with no performance fee.
Fund Manager of the Year: Real Assets
We have become more confident in ATLAS Infrastructure’s capabilities as it builds on its strong record in a competitive marketplace. With a fee cut in 2021 that brings it more in line with competitors, it is a good option for those seeking exposure to listed infrastructure. Atlas’ research driven approach and deep bench of experience makes it a fitting choice for a global infrastructure investment.
Fund Manager of the Year: Multisector
Australian Retirement Trust’s multisector strategies retain the appealing building blocks of its predecessor Sunsuper: an established and capable team with the ability and scale to invest in long-term assets that aren’t easily obtainable. Longer-term performance has been sound; while the nearer-term uptick has largely come via unlisted assets, additional internal scrutiny over valuations provides some reassurance. Overall, the asset-allocation process is suitably thorough and robust to us.
Fund Manager of the Year: Sustainable Investing
AXA IM Sustainable Equity combines a systematic low-volatility, high-quality skew with favourable environmental, social, and governance characteristics and a focus on reducing downside risks. The team managing the strategy has a long-term track record in systematic and factor-based investing. The rally of low-quality, high-volatility stocks in late 2020 was hurtful, but AXA’s long-term approach provides a simple yet effective systematic global equities methodology with significant ESG considerations at an attractive 0.35% fee.
Only fund managers with products available for sale in Australia qualify for inclusion in the Morningstar Australia Awards. Morningstar determines winners based on a combination of qualitative research by its manager research analysts; risk-adjusted returns over medium- to long-term periods; and performance in the 2022 calendar year.
Morningstar's manager research analysts assess the track record for a fund based on Morningstar's Risk-Adjusted Return measure over the one-, three-, five-, and ten-year periods. The criteria balances the performance of fund managers with consistent strong returns over the long term, not just rewarding those with the most impressive one-year return.
Morningstar's manager research analysts then conduct a qualitative assessment of the fund managers under consideration. This incorporates the key pillars of the Morningstar Analyst Rating™ – People, Process and Parent. The qualitative assessment also captures practical issues that quantitative screens cannot. After assessing the quantitative and qualitative outcomes for each fund manager, Morningstar's analysts then debate and decide on the fund managers they believe are worthy winners and finalists across the various Award categories. If a verdict cannot be reached by a unanimous decision, then each analyst casts a vote to decide.
To receive the overall Fund Manager of the Year award, a fund manager must have offered products in multiple award categories or delivered an outstanding outcome for investors. Fund managers were assessed not only on whether they were a finalist in more than one category, but on products that had peer-beating returns but did not obtain a top three position. The winner must have strong returns across multiple categories, proven themselves a good steward of investors' capital, and in Morningstar's opinion, has achieved the highest level of funds management excellence.
The award for Undiscovered Manager includes managers or specific funds with strong investment merit that Morningstar considers worthy of bringing to the attention of the retail market. For example, a manager that may be newer to the retail market but has a successful track record offshore or in the institutional space.
To receive the Sustainable Investing award, a fund manager must have achieved a superior result in the Morningstar ESG commitment level assessment (asset manager), a forward-looking qualitative assessment incorporating three key pillars: Philosophy and Process, Resources, and Active Ownership. Fund managers were also assessed on the Morningstar Sustainability Rating; the Morningstar carbon metrics (specifically low carbon designation); the Morningstar Analyst Rating of their strategies; and their risk-adjusted returns over medium- to long-term periods.