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BNZ scoops the pool

The Bank of New Zealand has been named fund manager of the year, and has also taken out the top award for international shares and was runner-up in international bonds.

Thursday, October 25th 2001, 10:22PM

by Philip Macalister

The work Bank of New Zealand has been doing behind the scenes building and improving its business has paid off, with the announcement that it is Fund Manager of the Year for 2001.

BNZ Investment and Insurance general manager Rodger Murphy says there is no one thing the bank has done in the past year which earned it the award, rather it is the culmination of a number of initiatives.

These include refining its funds to make sure they consistently appeared in the top two quartiles, tightening up its risk management and improving distribution.

The head of research house FundSource, David van Schaardenburg, says BNZ has "demonstrated its consistent, defensive approach to investment management over the last few years.

"BNZ have strong stability with their key investment staff, enabling accumulation of high levels of team and industry experience."

Besides winning the overall category, BNZ won the international share sector and was runner-up in fixed interest.

Part of the reason for its success is that BNZ is a value manager.

Last year's winner, BT Funds Management, has ended up in second place this year.

Chief investment officer Craig Stobo says the year has been tough but the firm has done well on all fronts.

While BT's Australian business has been suffering on the back of poor Australian share fund performance and huge staff changes, New Zealand has been stable and the team has managed local assets well.

For instance its New Zealand share fund was runner up this year, and its diversified growth fund won its category.

Stobo says doing well in the awards is pleasing as the income assets have been outperformers in the past year, and BT is regarded as an equity house.

He says BT in New Zealand has experienced positive funds flow over the year.

The other big news on the BT front is that its parent company, the Principal Financial Group demutualised this week and listed on the New York Stock exchange. It shares closed up 13.5% after the first days trading.

Chairman David Drury dismissed claims it may sell BT: "We are very comfortable with the decision we made [to buy BT] and believe things are headed in a very positive direction for BT," he said.

Tower Asset Management chief executive Paul Bevin describes the past year as one of the best for the group in many years.

"We feel we have had one of our best years for a long time."

Because of the group's value-based investment philosophy it has struggled during periods like the technology boom, he says.

However, now that value is in vogue it has been doing very well on a performance basis.

Bevin says Tower's wholesale funds have done particularly well as they have a value bias. The retail funds have not done quite so well as they adopt a style-neutral approach to investing.

Besides having the value bias, Tower has also benefited from being conservative.

Bevin says this approach was based on the view that asset prices had a lot of risk which hadn't been adequately priced in.

From an organisational perspective Tower has been focused on building its asset management team in Australia as well as New Zealand.

For a full list of who won which Awards go to Good Returns' Fund Manager of the Year Awards page. CLICK HERE

You can read Philip's blog here: http://www.goodreturns.co.nz/blog/

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AMP Home Loans $200k+ 7.14 5.59 6.09 6.45
AMP Home Loans LVR <80% - - 5.75 6.09
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BNZ - Mortgage One 7.15 - - -
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