Lazard Asset Management is packaging two of its flagship funds inside the Lazard alpha Isa.
The Isa aims to achieve capital growth and consists of two funds, Lazard UK alpha and Lazard European alpha. Investments can be made in either one of the funds or a combination of the two.
The Lazard UK fund invests in a concentrated portfolio of between 40 and 50 UK stocks. The Lazard European alpha invests in a slightly larger portfolio of 45 to 50 stocks to reflect the bigger fund universe available within Europe.
The UK alpha fund is managed by Simon Roberts and Tony Willis. Both joined Lazard in 1999, having previously worked for Fidelity and Credit Suisse First Boston respectively. Gabrielle Boyle, who joined Lazard in 1993 from Royal Insurance Asset Management, runs the European alpha fund.
Both funds follow a bottom-up approach to stockpicking, which assesses individual stocks rather than stockmarket trends. A computer system initially provides the fund managers with a universe of stocks and this is narrowed down to the most attractive companies through in-depth research.
Some investors may feel that a choice of two funds is limited compared with new arrivals such as Fidelity's triple Isa, which also includes a US fund. The funds available within Lazard's Isa are a step above general UK and European funds in terms of investment risk because they contain fewer stocks, so the impact of poor performers will be greater. However, this can work in investors' favour if the fund managers hold the right stocks at the right time.
According to Standard & Poor's, the Lazard UK alpha fund is ranked 28 out of 287 funds and the Lazard European alpha fund is ranked 17 out of 100 funds based on £1,000 invested on a bid-to-bid basis with net income reinvested over three years to January 21, 2002.