'Katherine the Great' goes north to rule over UK's top investment fund

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The Independent Online

Katherine Garrett-Cox, one of the City's highest-profile fund managers, became the latest executive to jump ship from Aviva's asset management arm Morley yesterday, accepting a position as chief investment officer at the UK's largest generalist investment trust, Alliance.

Ms Garrett-Cox's resignation follows the departure of Morley's chief executive, Keith Jones, and its head of equities, Tim Thomas - both of whom quit the firm during the second half of last year.

The move will see Ms Garrett-Cox, dubbed Katherine the Great, swap the busy City of London for the relative tranquility of Dundee, where Alliance is based. She already has a home in Brechin, less than an hour's drive from the company's headquarters.

The new role will also carry significantly less responsibility than her current `position, in which she is responsible for overseeing the management of some £162bn of assets. The Alliance Trust has assets of just under £3bn, and recently launched an additional asset management operation, which so far comprises just two small Asian equity funds managed in Hong Kong.

Ms Garrett-Cox has been charged with developing the new business, as well as overseeing the investment strategy of the main Alliance Trust. The company would not reveal yesterday how much she is to be paid, saying only that her package would be performance-related.

Commenting on Ms Garrett-Cox's decision to quit her role for a more modest position, Alan Harden, the chief executive of Alliance Trust, said: "Huge companies like Morley are like supertankers, hard to turn around, but Alliance Trust is a lighter, faster, more responsive vessel. One, excellent, person can really make a difference.

"Katherine's strong experience in asset allocation, her far-sighted strategic approach and evident investment skills set her apart from the other candidates."

Ms Garrett-Cox has rarely been out of the headlines over the past 14 years since she was appointed head of US equities at Hill Samuel Asset Management at the age of just 26. She went on to be chief investment officer at Aberdeen Asset Management in 2000, just as the split-capital investment trust scandal began to unravel. She stayed in the job for three years before moving on to Morley.

Ms Garrett-Cox began her career at Fidelity Investments as a US fund manager after graduating from the University of Durham with a degree in history. She also had a brief stint working as a fund manager for the Norwegian insurer UNI Storebrand before joining Hill Samuel.

Morley said yesterday that its head of strategy, Adrian Jarvis, would take over as the company's acting chief investment officer when Ms Garrett-Cox leaves the firm in March. However, the company said it would appoint headhunters to search for a permanent replacement.

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Nicola Horlick

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