Mark Dampier: My money's in safe hands with William

The Analyst

These days I doubt many investors will recognise the name William Littlewood, but in the UK he was the star fund manager of the 1990s. He's also probably the best fund manager I have ever met.

To give you some background, he first came to my notice in 1991 when he managed what was then a small income fund from a virtually unknown group called Jupiter. Over the next nine years the Jupiter Income Fund produced a return of 580 per cent, compared with 266 per cent for the sector average. Even Neil Woodford, today's best-known fund manager and still a big favourite of mine, couldn't match that and delivered 342 per cent over the same period.

Mr Littlewood left Jupiter at the end of 1999 and for a while I thought his talents had been lost to the fund management industry. However, four years ago he resurfaced at Artemis running a very small hedge fund, mostly of his own money although I did invest a little of my own in it too. He got off to a bad start but the portfolio recovered well and over about three years he still made me money during tough market conditions.

I am therefore delighted to see that he has now come back to the retail market with Artemis Strategic Assets Fund. Its highly flexible structure allows Mr Littlewood to harness his experience as both a brilliant long-only manager and as a hedge manager too. I also think this is the perfect time for a fund that can go anywhere in search of the best returns.

Right now asset allocation is a nightmare. Assets that may be good for the next six months will not necessarily be good for the next five years. In other words, the philosophy of buying and holding for the long term seems under threat.

In this new fund Mr Littlewood will invest in a wide array of assets encompassing shares, bonds, commodities, cash and currencies. The extra nuance on this fund is that he will also be able to go short, giving him the ability to make money when prices fall.

At present Mr Littlewood's views are not that dissimilar to Neil Woodford's of Invesco Perpetual, in that he thinks the recession will last longer and will be deeper than anything that we can remember. Conversely, when a recovery does come, Mr Littlewood thinks it will be sharp and quick – and those left holding defensive assets could be left behind. This fund gives him the flexibility to make that switch to a more aggressive portfolio when he feels the time is right.

For now the fund will have roughly 35 per cent of its money in UK and international equities and 15 per cent in commodities, with gold at 7 per cent being the largest weighting. Twenty-five per cent will be made up in currencies, including a long position in Canadian dollars.

Perhaps more interestingly he believes that government bonds are an accident waiting to happen and he will be 20 per cent short of UK and US gilts. The fund will start with about 45 per cent in cash, which is a defensive position but also gives him the liquidity to suddenly pounce on an asset class as opportunities develop.

Clearly the fund will have a degree of short-term volatility and it won't necessarily behave in a similar way to the general stock market. However, I am strongly of the view that the fund is ideally suited to today's more difficult environment. I am also convinced of William Littlewood's ability and pleased that he is working at one of the UK's top investment houses at Artemis.

Finally, very welcome indeed, is the fact that the fund comes with a straightforward annual management charge of 1.5 per cent. This means that there are no performance fees, which in many cases verge on the extortionate.

In my view this is the fund launch of the year and I will be backing it strongly.

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

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at

Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
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

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

    Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

    £50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

    £13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

    Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own