PA ANALYSIS: No panic as Columbia Threadneedle loses its equities 'rock'

Added 5th May 2016

As Leigh Harrison puts mountaineering at the top of his to-do-list in retirement, can Columbia Threadneedle’s UK equities franchise continue to scale the dizzy heights without him?

PA ANALYSIS: No panic as Columbia Threadneedle loses its equities 'rock'

As the firm’s venerable head of equities brings down the curtain on 30-plus years of professional investing, a decade of which has been with Columbia Threadneedle, it’s clear the firm still maintains an experienced and respected UK team.

Having handed over the reins on the flagship UK Equity Income fund to Richard Colwell last autumn, Harrison’s plans have been carefully managed, with William Davies – with Threadneedle since its inception in 1994 – a safe pair of hands as the new equities head.

“I had to choose a moment at which I could switch from being completely committed to Threadneedle to doing more stuff for me,” Harrison told me.

“I can do it because if I look at the UK and European team that work for me we have some good guys, very experienced investors, the performance is good, we have good links to distribution, good client relationships and we are getting decent growth out of the business.

“If I want to leave, I might as well get on with it and go now rather than hang around for another year or two.”

"Over the past 10 years, Harrison has delivered 100% growth for his investors, versus 49% from his UK Equity Income peer group"

He is also clear on the different investment approach on offer from Colwell, who is described as a more value-focused investor with more of a high-conviction approach. This is already reflected in the trimming down in size of UK Equity Income fund from 65 to around 55 stocks.

A supposed return to favour of value stocks is certainly a big issue of the day, while from a top-down perspective the macro thematic puzzle of central bank policy that troubles Harrison – and indeed his peers – looks set to remain a problem for years to come.

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Gary Shepherd


Portfolio Adviser

Gary joined Last Word Media in 2009, becoming editor of Portfolio Adviser a year later. Previously, he worked at Incisive Media with roles across its Professional Adviser, Investment Week, Bloomberg Money and Mortgage Solutions titles. Gary has been shortlisted for various awards, winning Headline Money Investment Writer of the Year in 2010.



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