While 2020 will always be known as the Year of the COVID-19Pandemic, italsowill be remembered for its market highs,lows and new highs, as well its near-zerointerest rates.
Last year, active managers had to be“nimble,” said Tim Clift, chief investment strategist for Envestnet | PMC. Atthe same time, though, portfolio managers nominated as finalists for the 17thannual Asset Manager and Strategistof the Year Awards faced unique issuesand conditions.
The yearly awards, presented byEnvestnet | PMC and Investment Advisor,recognize active managers in seven different categories who have beaten theirbenchmarks, shown solid performancein general over time and are the best intheir respective asset class.
The 2021 finalists are listed in theaccompanying sidebar, and the winnersare set to be showcased in the July/August issue of Investment Advisor.
“The markets moved very swiftly,”Clift said. “We started out strong untilCOVID hit at the end of February andinto early March. Then the marketdropped like a rock, but it also rebounded very quickly. If you were to buy andhold, you probably did OK. But if theywere nimble, saw the warning signs andmade some adjustments, [these] activemanagers had an opportunity to shine inthat environment,” he explained.
It also was a year in which “stock
picking became very important,” Clift
pointed out. Index managers own every-
thing, “but an active manager could see
what was happening and thrive in the
situation,” he said.
For example, technology stocks soared,while travel and entertainment holdingscrashed. “There were multiple opportunities throughout the year for portfoliomanagers to really shift based on marketconditions, and it created a much moreinteresting environment for managers,”explained the investment strategist.
THIS YEAR’S FINALISTS
The finalists for the 2021 awardshave been culled from thousands onthe Envestnet platform by a group ofanalysts, rated by category and thenreviewed by the judging committee.
To be considered for an award, the portfolio managers need to have at least $200million in assets and three years of experience. They also need to be open to newinvestments on the Envestnet platform.
Those on the most-recent list of final-
ists have had stellar years of performance,
but there’s a lot more that makes them
worthy of consideration by the judges.
“We want to make sure that people
understand that we’re not just basing these
awards on performance, or just last year’s
performance,” Clift said. “We’re really
focusing on consistency over the years —
not just selecting from a hot year. We’re
looking at a lot of metrics, including man-
aging risk, the people and the process.”
The analysts and judging committee
also “like to see growth, a steady accu-
mulation and a lot of underlying hold-
ers, rather than just a few,” Clift added.
“That makes it much more robust and
reduces concerns about outflows from a
One area that has gained more atten-
tion in the past two years has been impact
or environmental, social and governance
investing, he says. The awards program
does have an impact category (which it
added in 2016), and several of finalists in
other categories also have ESG investing
woven into their strategies.
“There’s more activism from shareholders, but the industry has been feeling pressure,” especially on climatechange, Clift said. “Governance of companies and diversity and inclusion [hasbeen] really prominent during this pastyear. Everybody’s shining a bright lighton companies to make sure they aredoing the right thing.
By Ginger Szala
In a Year Like No Other, Active Managers
The 17th-annual Asset Manager and Strategist of the Year Awards
will recognize active managers in seven different categories.