The second reason for the surprise is that Oxley and his team joined the firm amid much fanfare last year to launch the Old Mutual Absolute Return Bond strategy. OMGI built an office in Edinburgh to accommodate them and seeded the fund with £100m.
As Hargreaves Lansdown research director, Mark Dampier, put it the whole thing seems a bit odd. “It would be like buying a football team only to kick out the best player.”
According to the firm, the reason for the departure was a “difference in opinion regarding future strategic direction” of the fund and, it is believed that one of the points of friction was Old Mutual’s decision to focus on rates side of the absolute return fund and stop looking at the Liability Driven Investment side.
Exactly why Oxley decided to leave is of less importance, however, than what becomes of the fund now.
According to Shakhista Mukhamedova, fund analyst at Brewin Dolphin, while Oxley’s departure is a blow to the fund, that the rest of the team remains in place is a positive.
"When a manager leaves a firm with immediate effect, it is seldom a happy split".
She told Portfolio Adviser that in Adam Purzitsky the firm still has the man responsible for the fund’s key macro views, while Paul Shanta plays a primary role in the portfolio construction and expression of the team’s views. As a result, while Brewin Dolphin will review the fund, as they do whenever there is a manager change, many of the key elements remain in place.
However, she admited, while Brewin Dolphin likes the fund’s approach to the government bond asset class, breaking up the yield curve in search of more uncorrelated returns, year to date it has not performed particularly well.