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The veteran fixed income duo will join Liontrust Asset Management early next year after which they will launch a Strategic Bond fund, with the flexibility to invest in a range of bonds; a High Yield Bond fund focused on higher yielding but less credit-worthy bonds; and an Absolute Return Bond fund, aimed at eking out a positive return from fixed income bonds challenged by rising interest rates.
Liontrust, best known for its Special Situations and smaller company funds run by Citywire AAA-rated Anthony Cross and Julian Fosh, bought the £244 million Monthly Income and £446 million Sustainable Future Corporate Bond funds as part of its acquisition of Alliance Trust Investments earlier this year.
Nevertheless, bonds are notably light in its £9.3 billion range given it offers investors global, European and Asian equity income funds.
Chief executive John Ions said: ‘David Roberts [pictured] and Phil Milburn will be an excellent addition to our existing seven fund management teams and we look forward to promoting them to our client base in the UK and Continental Europe. David and Phil are experienced fund managers, with a strong long-term track record of performance across a range of fixed income funds.
He added: ‘The recruitment of David and Phil will not only expand our fund management capability but also strengthen further our fixed income proposition. Their investment style complements our sustainable fixed income team of Stuart Steven, Kenny Watson and Aitken Ross.’
Roberts joined Kames, the UK investment arm of Dutch insurer Aegon, 13 years ago and headed up its fixed income team. Milburn (pictured) ran fixed income investment strategy.
The departures mean a reshuffle at Kames, which manages £44.5 billion of assets. Stephen Snowden (pictured below), its Citywire AA-rated head of credit, will jointly run the fixed income team with Adrian Hull. He will continue co-managing the Kames Absolute Return Bond fund alongside Colin Finlayson, as well as the Investment Grade Bond and Investment Grade Global Bond funds with Citywire AA-rated Euan McNeil.
The Kames Strategic Bond fund that Milburn and Roberts ran will pass to co-manager Juan Valenzuela with the help of Alex Pelteshki who joined Kames three years ago 2014 from ING Financial Markets.
Iain Buckle will continue as co-manager of the Kames Sterling Corporate Bond fund he run with Roberts, with the assistance of Rory Sandilands, who joined from Goldman Sachs last year.
David Ennett and Stephen Baines will continue to run the Kames High Yield Bond fund, which had been co-managed by Milburn. Ennett will be joined by Jack Holmes as co-manager of the High Yield Global Bond fund, which Milburn also co-managed.
Kames said the changes would have ‘no impact’ on the funds’ investment process.
Ryan Hughes, head of fund selection at fund supermarket operator AJ Bell, said: ‘The fixed interest team will now be led by Stephen Snowdon who is a fund manager with a great long-term track record. I expect very little change in the investment approach and while this change in manager will naturally lead investors to review their holdings, I would caution against making quick decisions given the strength of the team.’