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Changes for the big two

This week the two leading investment firms in the UK announced major changes to their teams, with one bringing a new name in and another replacing one on the way out.

Lets start with the pending arrival of Prudential managing director of UK retail life and pensions Gary Shaughnessy at Fidelity as the group’s new UK retail managing director.

He replaces Richard Wastcoat and will be responsible for retail and distribution strategy in the UK. He will also assist in the growth of platform business FundsNetwork.

Having spent the past nine years at M&G, the last two of which were working for Prudential, Shaughnessy comes in at a time when the group has lost its grip as the leading fund management firm and has made a number of changes to its flagship UK range, the most recent departure from which has been John Stavis on its income and growth and income funds.

Fidelity has yet to underline its plans following Shaughnessy’s appointment but says it will look to find a new role for the experienced Wastcoat, who is currently on a six-month sabbatical.

Meanwhile, the firm who usurped Fidelity as the leading fund firm has suffered a blow this week, with Invesco Perpetual UK growth and UK aggressive fund manager Ed Burke stepping down from day-to-day fund management to take early retirement.

The UK growth and UK aggressive funds will pass to Martin Walker and Stephen Anness respectively, with Walker’s UK opportunities and UK focus funds being merged into the larger vehicles as part of the change.

The news is a big blow to Invesco despite the replacements as Burke had been a huge performer with the exception of the past 12 months and had often been touted as a replacement for income guru Neil Woodford.

Invesco is likely to point to having good young managers to fill the void left by Burke but the emphasis on Woodford is likely to grow with the group having lost its best support to the main man at the firm.

Chelsea Financial Services managing director Darius McDermott says: “The decision to merge the UK Opportunities fund into the UK Growth fund seems sensible given the similarities of the funds; the fund now has approximately £1.3bn under management and should present an interesting challenge to up-and-coming manager, Martin Walker.

“On the basis of Burke’s ability and pivotal role on these two funds I have downgraded both portfolios to a hold and will maintain a watching brief over the next six months.”

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