Departures at the top of Woodford’s fund venture

10th December 2014


Two top executives are standing down from Neil Woodford’s new fund management venture less than a year after its launch.

The start up fronted by the star fund manager, Woodford Investment Management, has already attracted £8.5 billion in client assets.

But chief operating officer Nick Hamilton and chief legal and compliance officer Gray Smith, the chief legal and compliance officer, resigned from the business on Tuesday.

Analysis by Hargreaves Lansdown showed that Mr Woodford’s fund has returned 7.4% since its launch, making it the top performing UK Equity Income fund during this period.

By comparison, the FTSE All Share had achieved a negative return of -0.5%, while the average UK Equity Income fund returned 0.7%.

Mark Dampier, head of research at Hargreaves Lansdown, said there was no cause for investors to worry.

He said: “I spoke to Craig Newman, chief executive officer and Neil Woodford on Tuesday. Newman said the business has recruited further experienced specialists and Woodford added this should be seen as evidence of the company’s intention to ‘walk the walk’ regarding the creation of a robust, industry-leading fund management business.

“Essentially the legal and compliance (and also the risk and operations) parts of the business have been separated which is perfectly natural in a growing business.

“The departures will make the headlines but overall it’s clear to see the strengthening of the operations team is positive. There is no impact on the way Woodford manages the funds and investors should not be concerned.”

The recent appointments include Simon Osborne, as head of compliance, and Gavin St. John-Heath, as chief risk and operations officer, along with James Newman, as head of operations.

Osborne has joined from Los Angeles-based Nuveen Investments where he worked since 2010, as a senior vice president. Prior to this, Osborne gained eight years’ experience managing teams in compliance divisions at PIMCO, in London and at its Newport Beach (California) headquarters.

Gavin St. John-Heath has more than eight years’ experience, having held several senior risk management and compliance roles across various market sectors with a number of leading companies, including Petronas Energy Trading. He holds a D.Phil. in Computational Neuroscience and will join from BlueQuant Capital Management on 1 January 2015.

Newman joins from Egerton Capital, a long/short equity hedge fund, where he was head of operations. He previously worked at Pictet and Genesis Investment Management.

Other recent recruits include David Brailsford, who has joined as data architecture delivery manager from IBM, and Vimal Patel, business analyst, who has joined from Abu-Dhabi-based sovereign wealth manager Mubadala Development Company, where he was head of investment systems.

Newman said the business needed to recruit further experienced specialists to ensure it met the standards required of the business and the standards WIM wants to lay down as to how a ‘new’ fund business should operate.

Craig Newman, chief executive, Woodford Investment Management said: “Nick and Gray helped us get over the line. We thank them for their commitment and wish them all the best in the future.”


2 thoughts on “Departures at the top of Woodford’s fund venture”

  1. dlp6666 says:

    “Nick and Gray helped us get over the line”

    Yes, but why exactly did they leave?

    1. david lilley says:

      Did they resign?
      It is almost impossible to tell whether they left or were pushed with politicians.
      But given that it takes some three months from the start of recruitment to employment (head hunting time + interviewing time + notice period time) we have to take note of the fact that their roles are already filled.

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