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Pie Funds reopens soft-closed funds

Pie Funds is again accepting investments in three of its funds that were previously soft closed, although they are each holding back from their target markets.

Monday, September 2nd 2019, 6:00AM 6 Comments

Paul Gregory

It had previously had four funds that were soft closed, and was not accepting investment from people who did not already have money in the funds.

But it had received feedback that that was confusing, group head of investments Paul Gregory said.

Instead, it had opted to close its emerging fund completely but open its growth, dividend and growth 2 funds. That decision was made based on Pie Funds’ view of the capacity of the funds, he said. 

But Chris Douglas, a principal at My Fiduciary, said it was a "puzzling" decision.

Growth has 60% cash, growth 2 32.25% and dividend 38.52% cash. Each has a target of 100% Australasian equities.

Usually fund managers would reopen a fund because they had withdrawals or the market increased to the point where they thought there were increased opportunities for investment.

"It's hard to know why they're reopening their funds now. I doubt it's because of the view that there's a greater amount of opportunities to invest in because they have such a significant amount of cash they must be relatively pessimistic abut the market at the moment."

Gregory said the composition of the fund at a point in time was not that important to capacity, "Especially if – as now – there is high cash. Cash is much more liquid than equities. We could maybe argue the capacity of the fund is higher with high cash, because it grows more slowly. But our intention with our cash is always to invest it, as much of it as possible, if we find good companies at good prices. Cash is a tool, so it’s not really appropriate for us to regard it as ‘additional’ capacity."

Performance in the funds has dropped off recently, though they have been strong performers in the past.

In 2018, Growth 2 delivered 14.87% against a market index of 14.99%. Growth returned 7.12% in 2018 compared to a market index of 14.99%. 

Gregory said Pie Funds determined the capacity of each of the funds and how much space might be left to accept more investment and determined the three had more room to move.

“What’s important to us is how efficiently can we move into or out of the positions we have.

"Given the weight we have in that company how big are we on the company’s register? If it’s a smaller company that can be quite large.”

That created filing requirements that could slow the process of moving out of a position, he said.

“We want that to be as efficient as possible because the longer it takes to get out the more the price can move against you.”

He said it was likely the now open funds would close in future.

“At some point there will be too much money in them to generate the return we want.”

Gregory said he hoped the emerging fund would remain closed. “The only reason it would open again is if it gets below capacity which would happen because of bad returns or because of withdrawals and those tend to go hand in hand.”

Tags: investment PIE pie funds

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Comments from our readers

On 2 September 2019 at 11:21 am Pragmatic said:
“Asset gathering”: to put shareholders interests ahead of investors
On 2 September 2019 at 7:34 pm Kimble said:
"But our intention with our cash is always to invest it, as much of it as possible, if we find good companies at good prices."

Hang on. If there is a tonne of cash in the portfolio right now, that must mean there aren't any opportunities out there. So any new investment is going to go straight into cash?

Well, at least they aren't charging active equity manager sized fees on the cash portion of the portfolio.

Right?

Oh. They're charging 1.85%pa.
On 3 September 2019 at 9:03 am Paul Gregory said:
Hi, I'm from Pie. Seems the actual reason for the funds being open is not clear to some readers, although Susan put it at the top of her story. The change from 'soft closed' to 'open' or 'closed' is because we had feedback from clients and others, they didn't know what 'soft closed' meant.

As the story says, all four funds were already accepting money from existing investors, which reduces capacity as much as money from new investors. A fund has capacity or it doesn't. If it is taking on additional money from any investor, it does. So if you accept, as we did, we needed to be clearer about the status of our funds, you label them more clearly (i.e. 'open' or 'closed'). But this isn't 're-opening' the funds (and in fact as the story says, we've closed the Emerging Companies fund to all investors). Regardless, changing the labelling must of course be disclosed in the PDS, which we did, which is how it was picked up and written about.

We also talked with Susan about how we calculated capacity. We review this regularly and the prompt for the latest review was, naturally enough, the decision to clarify the labelling.

On 3 September 2019 at 9:27 am smitty said:
... and just after they made the move from a performance hurdle fee to a higher ongoing management fee.... Businesses such as these, charging 1.85% +/- are going to struggle to demonstrate their value. A free magazine and some wine and crackers ain't going to fix that. Sitting on that amount of cash is a tough call, be heroes if they get it right, but man if they get it wrong, they will be left behind their peers and find it very hard to make up performance...
On 3 September 2019 at 9:44 am Paul Gregory said:
Paul Gregory. Seems the actual reason for the funds being open is not clear to some readers, although Susan put it at the top of her story. The change from 'soft closed' to 'open' or 'closed' is because we had feedback from clients and others, they didn't know what 'soft closed' meant.

As the story says, all four funds were already accepting money from existing investors, which reduces capacity as much as money from new investors. A fund has capacity or it doesn't. If it is taking on additional money from any investor, it does. So if you accept, as we did, we needed to be clearer about the status of our funds, you label them more clearly (i.e. 'open' or 'closed'). But this isn't 're-opening' the funds (and in fact as the story says, we've closed the Emerging Companies fund to all investors). Regardless, changing the labelling must of course be disclosed in the PDS, which we did, which is how it was picked up and written about.

We also talked with Susan about how we calculated capacity. We review this regularly and the prompt for the latest review was, naturally enough, the decision to clarify the labelling.

On 3 September 2019 at 10:48 am coolrunnings said:
I think PIE Funds are copping a bit of undue flack here.

As they say, the status of the funds hasn't really changed they've simply tried to make it clearer to investors who didn't understand the terminology 'soft closed'.

Going forward the funds are either 'open' or 'closed' regardless of whether its a new or existing investor (which as Paul states has no relevance to capacity constraints anyway).

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