NatWest Securities at top of Reuters survey

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NatWest Securities held on to top spot in the annual Reuters poll of larger UK company investment research published yesterday, but its lead slipped after a year which saw considerable turnover of staff.

The broadly based survey also found the fund management and securities industries were consolidating fast which was leading to the creation of several leading firms, which were recruiting heavily. For instance, the number of analysts in the City rose by 24 per cent last year to 1,530.

NatWest received 13.33 per cent of votes in the weighted survey of fund managers compiled by Tempest Consulting, down from 14.97 per cent in the 1996 poll. SBC Warburg was second on 12.75 per cent and HSBC James Capel third on 11.52 per cent.

Finance directors were separately polled by Tempest and UBS was placed in top spot with 12.89 per cent of votes, ahead of NatWest in second place and Merrill Lynch in third.

The NatWest oil team led by Fergus MacLeod was again voted best sector team. SBC Warburg won awards for best broker execution and best broker sales.

Finance directors voted Mercury Asset Management as best fund management group and the team at Schroder Investment Management as best individual fund manager.

The survey also found that the City was undergoing another bout of consolidation and recruitment by the big houses.

With the number of analysts soaring, Stephen Parker of Tempest said: "Everyone we talked to is taking people on."

A typical analyst these days would be male, aged between 30 and 37, and would have changed house at least once. He would earn up to pounds 100,000 for his 40 to 60-hour week, researching up to 20 stocks. A further quarter participants in Tempest's survey earned up to pounds 150,000.

A Labour victory was not built into share prices, according to the survey. Nearly half of the dealers employed by fund managers expected the UK market to peak in less than three months' time, with just over a quarter thinking a sell-off was still more than 12 months away.

This contrasted sharply with the fund managers themselves, nearly half of whom thought the market top was still more than a year away.

Reuters' rankings

Rank Name 1997 Vote %

1 (1) NatWest Securities 13.33

2 (3) SBC Warburg 12.75

3 (2) HSBC James Capel 11.52

4 (5) UBS 11.29

5 (4) BZW 10.71

6 (6) Merrill Lynch 10.56

7 (7) Dresdner Kleinwort

Benson 8.1

8 (8) ABN-AMRO Hoare

Govett 7.61

9 (-) Cazenove & Co 1.53

10 (9) Credit Lyonnais 1.43