HGI boosts comms team to tackle sliding reputation

Fund manager Henderson Global Investors is beefing up its communications in London as it tries to ditch its reputation for under-performance.

The company has poached Morley Fund Management PR executive
Laura Cook and appointed financial services shop Penrose Financial to bolster its four-strong comms team.

Penrose has taken on a new brief focusing on UK financial services media, on an account believed to be worth between £100,000 and £150,000 a year.

Cook, meanwhile, joins HGI as media relations manager, reporting to head of corporate comms Richard Acworth, who joined the fund manager from Norwich Union last year (PRWeek, 5 November 2004).

The appointments are the latest in a series of moves made by HGI in its efforts to tackle the perception held by the financial services press that its fund managers under-perform their rivals.

In July, Bestinvest's six-monthly 'Spot the Dog' report named HGI as one of the UK's worst-performing investment firms.

HGI had £1.02bn of dog (or worst performing) funds out of a total £6.07bn. A fund qualifies as a dog under Bestinvest's criteria if it has under-performed its benchmark in each of the past three years and by at least ten per cent cumulatively over the period.

HGI countered criticism with the appointment of former Threadneedle UK head of equities Graham Kitchen to lead its UK thematic team.

It also hired UBS Global Asset Management UK and Europe head of fixed income David Jacob to manage its fixed income.

The company has also revamped its multi-manager range following the departure earlier in the year of head of multi-manager John Husselbee.

For next year, HGI plans a new suite, called Managed Solutions, to take advantage of more flexible fund regulations to incorporate traditional bond and equity holdings as well as exposure to property, commodities and hedge funds.

Acworth said that following HGI's demerger from Australian financial services firm AMP at the end of 2003 and the sale of its life business earlier this year, it had reverted to being 'a pure-play asset manager'.

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