Each month RealAdviser asks a panel of fund selectors to give their verdict on a company's fund range. This month is the turn of Fidelity
BAMBOS HAMBI, HEAD OF MULTI-MANAGER AT GARTMORE
Fidelity is widely regarded as one of the top investment houses around. It is a pure investment group that is strong globally. The managers run money pretty much the way they see fit and they all work closely with their research analysts.
The group is most attractive in its UK and European offerings. Europe has done fantastically well despite Anthony Bolton leaving. Tim McCarron has done a great job, but the whole European team is strong. There is a worry for investors about what happens to the Special Situations fund once Bolton has gone. He will still be around as a mentor, but he is an incredible manager with an incredible record - something that is hard to replace. Other interesting managers are Sanjeev Shah, who recently moved to the offshore European fund and John Stavis, who is another intelligent analyst that the group has trained up.
Fidelity's fixed interest proposition is not as strong. The groups' corporate bond fund, managed by Ian Spreadbury, is a good proposition that is consistently above average, but the global fixed interest funds have struggled. In a nutshell they have been the most successful group over a long period, with strength across the board. They had a few problems in Asia, but those funds seem to have bounced back well. The group is also recovering well in Emerging Markets, which is something we are looking at.
TOM CADDICK, ANALYST, FUND OF FUNDS, F&C
Fidelity is very good at highlighting its strengths. The group has a huge marketing and sales department to highlight where it is doing well, despite other funds having mediocre performance. But what cannot be disputed is that the group is good at both spotting trends and trendsetting themselves.
In Europe, Tim McCarron is an excellent manager, as is Colin Stone who manages the European Opportunities fund. Other managers we like include Sanjeev Shah, who has been touted as Anthony Bolton's replacement. John Stavis is also a good manager, we like what he does on the Growth and Income fund. He does particularly well on our analysis with strong returns for low risk.
On the fixed interest side the group has a good manager in Ian Spreadbury and we are not forgetting about Bolton whose talent as a fund manager is without doubt. They are more targeted for the private investor, and although there is no questioning the groups' quality, we as a multi-manager do find it hard to get full access to comprehensive information on their funds and managers immediately. The group does need to work on its transparency to offer a more visible presence in the market.
ROB BURDETT, joint HEAD OF CREDIT SUISSE MULTI-MANAGER
Fidelity was one of the earliest groups to allow fund managers the freedom to manage money in any way they see fit. It was also one of the first to split the roles of manager and analyst, a move that has lasted well.
It has a good range of funds that have been run for a long time by experienced managers like Anthony Bolton, who now has a succession of protégés on both the UK and European side of the business.
The group has done well to deal with issues of capacity in some of their funds. However, it is fortunate that managers at Fidelity only run one or two funds, whereas managers from other groups tend to have more mandates to run. The group also has a very powerful marketing machine.
Fidelity has had more people leaving the group recently, though that has to be expected eventually. But compare it to other groups and the turnover is actually low.
Considering the group's size they were late to the party in terms of bonds, but it does now have good funds in that area of the market too. Tim McCarron is also a strong manager in the group's talent pool.
MARK DAMPIER, HEAD OF RESEARCH, HARGREAVES LANSDOWN
Fidelity is a highly polished outfit, one of the largest asset managers in the world. The group has massive resources, is strong in most areas, and most importantly, you can never write it off, as Asia's bounce-back this year indicated.
I think its key weakness is in the UK as the group has struggled to repeat the success of Special Situations in other mandates. The Income fund has been successful, but not to the same degree as in the 1980s, performance wise.
The group has had a successful succession management on the European side as Tim McCarron has taken over from Anthony Bolton and the US has also recovered. Japan is also doing well.
If Fidelity is going through a crunch, the group make a concerted effort to grow back what they have lost. They pride themselves on growing internally, making the need for new managers largely obsolete.
But I am not happy with what they have done with Fidelity Special Situations. The group had the confidence to let Bolton be replaced by McCarron on Europe, but why not the same with the UK? The funds will have different mandates which is a bit strange; they really should have talked to the major holders of the fund instead of just announcing it.
Jason Britton, fund manager, T Bailey Asset Management
Among the Fidelity fund range we favour the Fidelity European Fund managed by Tim McCarron. We have held it now for over four years and the consistency it has shown has made it a must-have fund in the Europe ex-UK sector.
We have long argued for the Fidelity Special Situations Fund to be split up and are pleased this is now happening. It was not its size that was the concern for us but the rate of its growth. It took approximately 20 years to reach £2bn in size but just three more years to reach £6bn. If one is investing for the long term one needs to be convinced the fund will be manageable not just now but up to the investment horizon as well.
But even a house as excellent as Fidelity is not without fault. The timelines of their data provision is problematic and raises the threshold in terms of getting comfortable with other funds within Fidelity's range.
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