SVM’s flagship hedge fund High- lander has seen 90 per cent of its assets walk after a period of sustained underperformance.The long/short European equity portfolio, managed by Colin McLean, has seen assets under management shrivel from euro 600m to euro 60m in the past two years. Swiss fund of hedge funds boutique Soprigest senior research analyst St诨ane Gosteli, who rates the fund a sell, says there is a concern that McLean is spending so much time marketing the SVM range that performance is suffering. After very good performance when markets tumbled – achieving a 27.7 per cent return in 2001 – the fund had returns of -8.45 per cent in 2003, 3.8 per cent in 2004 and -3.93 per cent this year to date, against a background of rising equity prices. Gosteli says a high turnover of assistant managers has not helped with continuity. He says: “At its peak, it was euro 600m. Now it is around euro 60m and the fund has not been performing well. I worry there was more focus on marketing than managing the fund. “McLean is a good manager and he works very well when the market is going down, even if he does not have a net negative position, but when the market improved the fund did not.” Chelsea Financial Services managing director Darius McDermott says: “The fund of hedge funds world is even more tough than the fund of funds world. “These managers have to look at short-term performance and, if a fund manager loses the confidence of a few fund of fund managers at the same time, then they can lose a lot of money.” SVM was unable to comment.