Mark Dampier: Franklin quartet play to their strengths to re-tune fund focus


The Franklin UK Managers' Focus Fund harnesses the in-house talent of four of Franklin's highly respected British team.

Following its launch in 2006, the fund endured several years of relatively average performance. Fortunately, it has seen somewhat of a renaissance over the past couple of years, boasting excellent returns since mid-2012.

The fund's distinctive name reflects its set-up. It is broadly allocated equally between four of Franklin's fund managers: Colin Morton investing in up to ten larger companies; Paul Spencer contributing up to ten medium-sized companies; Richard Bullas with up to 20 smaller companies; and Ben Russon who will hold up to ten companies of any size, depending on where he sees the best opportunities.

At first glance this may appear an unusual make-up, but the idea is for each fund manager to focus on selecting their best, highest-quality stock ideas from their specialist area of the UK market.

Broadly the fund is evenly split between large, medium and smaller companies. Over the long term the team would expect the small and mid-caps to perform best. Nevertheless, they appreciate these will also produce some of the worst performers given their higher-risk nature. Generally, flows into the fund are evenly distributed among the team, though rebalancing is done if a portion of the fund has performed well or poorly.

Inevitably, with a number of managers forming the line-up, there have been a few changes over time. Stuart Sharp, who previously ran the fund's smaller companies portion, left the firm in June 2012, being replaced by Bullas.

Sharp tended to take higher risks, taking bets which had the potential to succeed, but some would not pay off and could be particularly painful.

The fund has an overseer in Mark Hall, the previous manager of the Franklin UK Opportunities Fund (formerly the UK Select Growth Fund). He relinquished this position in June 2013 and effectively took up an analyst and 'oversight' role for the UK Managers' Focus Fund. He also works closely with Bullas on the Franklin UK Smaller Companies Fund and, among other responsibilities, organises company meetings.

This position seems to have suited him much better as he no longer enjoyed the pressures of day-to-day fund management. The team continue to benefit enormously from his experience and he acts as an essential resource.

The fund has enjoyed a great stock-picking year, but Morton, who I recently caught up with, admits they have also had a great tailwind behind them being invested in the right areas of the market – ie being overweight in small and mid-caps.

In particular, they have benefited from companies such as Xaar, Topps Tiles and Ashtead Group. They have also benefited by avoiding some poorer-performing sectors such as utilities, mining, oil and food retailing.

After all, some believe avoiding the losers is more important than trying to pick the winners!

I would perhaps not expect the fund to perform quite as well over the next 12 months or so given the valuations of small and medium-sized companies are now much higher. Many of the opportunities thrown out from the financial crisis have since been rerated; therefore, it will be a tougher job.

That said this is a strong UK team, which is largely unknown. This is mainly because, formerly under the guise of Rensburg and based in Leeds, the group undertook little marketing. Franklin's takeover of Rensburg in 2011 has pushed them further into the limelight.

The fund remains small at only £45m in size; perhaps a result of more average performance a few years ago. That is, in fact, more remarkable than you might think, given the fund fell to merely £8m a couple of years ago.

So, we have a nimble, flexible and concentrated fund, with some highly experienced managers at the helm showcasing their talents, and supported by a strong parent. that's a nice mix, in my book.

Mark Dampier is head of research at Hargreaves Lansdown, the asset manager, financial adviser and stockbroker. For more details about the funds included in this column, visit

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    IT Project manager - Web E-commerce

    £65000 Per Annum Benefits + bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: If you are...

    Trainee / Experienced Recruitment Consultants

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40000: SThree: As a Recruitment Consultant, y...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits