Lucy Marmion and Roland Arnold took over management of the BlackRock UK Smaller Companies Fund on 26 March 2015 following the departure of Ralph Cox.
Roland Arnold joined BlackRock's UK Small & Mid Cap team in 2000. He has co-managed the BlackRock UK Special Situations Fund, which has tended to focus on large and medium-sized companies, since August 2012 and the BlackRock UK Equity Fund since April 2010. The latter employs a multi-manager approach and Roland Arnold manages the portion focused on smaller companies; this currently accounts for 7.5% of the portfolio.
Lucy Marmion has worked alongside Roland Arnold and Ralph Cox in the BlackRock UK Small & Mid Cap team since 2008. She has co-managed the BlackRock Growth & Recovery Fund since April 2012, assuming the role of lead manager in September 2014. The primary focus of the fund is on small and medium-sized companies and it has performed broadly in line with the sector over her tenure.
The new managers share many of the previous manager's views and they have no plans to change the fund's investment philosophy or process. They will continue to seek high-quality small and medium-sized companies with strong growth prospects. The team is currently positive on the outlook for UK consumers. As such, the portfolio is positioned towards retail, leisure, IT and advertising companies to benefit from improving consumer and business confidence.
Our view on this fund
Lucy Marmion and Roland Arnold have gained invaluable experience as part of the BlackRock UK Small & Mid Cap team and they will continue to have the support of the team in running this fund. However, neither manager has had significant experience running a portfolio specifically focused on higher-risk small and medium-sized companies. While we feel the managers will do an adequate job, the IA UK Smaller Companies sector is home to a number of talented stock pickers with lengthy track records and we would prefer to monitor the fund over a prolonged period. There are currently superior alternatives within this sector, in our view.
The fund is not currently being considered for inclusion on the Wealth 150 list of our favourite funds across the major sectors.